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Volume II 



Copyright, 1913, by 


Published May, 1913 



Pakt V. Narrative of the Battle of Gettysburg . 1 

Part VI. Civil War Letters, 1863-1865 132 

Part VII. Narrative from the End of the Civil War 

to General Meade's Death, 1865-1872 . 281 


A. Document, Halleck to Meade, mentioned in 

letter of July 8, 1863 307 

B. Correspondence between General Halleck 

and General Meade, after the battle of 
Gettysburg, July 7-10, 1863, mentioned in 
letter of July 10, 1863 307 

C. Telegrams between Halleck and Meade, 

mentioned in letter of July 14, 1863 . . 311 

D. Letter from General McClellan to General 

Meade on his victory at Gettysburg, 
mentioned in letter of July 21, 1863 . . 312 

E. Newspaper article, General Meade's speech 

of acceptance of sword presented by the 
division of "Pennsylvania Reserves," 
August 28, 1863, mentioned in letter of 
August 31, 1863 313 

F. Extract from newspaper article, attack on 

General Meade, mentioned in letter of Sep- 
tember 5, 1863 316 

G. Newspaper article, attack on General Meade, 

mentioned in letter of December 28, 1863 318 






H. Newspaper article, attack on General Meade, 

mentioned in letter of March 9, 1864 . . 320 

I. Newspaper article, in favor of General Meade, 

mentioned in letter of March 15, 1864 . . 321 

J. Newspaper article, signed "Historicus," at- 
tack on General Meade, mentioned in let- 
ter of March 15, 1864 323 

K. Newspaper article, a reply by " a staff officer 
of the Fifth Corps" to a newspaper article 
signed " Historicus/' mentioned in letter of 
March 22, 1864 331 

L. Newspaper article, a reply by General 
Barnes to a newspaper article signed " His- 
toricus," mentioned in letter of March 22, 
1864 332 

M. Letter from General Meade to the Depart- 
ment enclosing newspaper article signed 
"Historicus," mentioned in letter of 
April 2, 1864 335 

N. Letter from President Lincoln to General 
Meade in reply to General Meade's letter 
to the Department, mentioned in letter of 
April 2, 1864 336 

O. Second newspaper article signed "Histori- 
cus," attack on General Meade, men- 
tioned in letter of April 8, 1864 337 

P. Newspaper article on General Meade, men- 
tioned in letter of June 9, 1864 341 

Q. Newspaper article, attack on General Meade, 

mentioned in letter of October 23, 1864 . 341 

R. Letters from General Grant to Mr. Wilson, 
Chairman of the Military Committee, and 




Mr. Washburne, at Washington, D. C, 
urging General Meade's confirmation as 
major-general in the regular army, men- 
tioned in letter of January 21, 1865 . . . 343 

S. Despatch from General Grant to General 
Meade on the report of the Committee on 
the Conduct of the War about the Peters- 
burg mine explosion, mentioned in letter of 
February 9, 1865 344 

T. Newspaper article, findings of the Court of 
Inquiry in the investigation of the Peters- 
burg mine explosion, mentioned in letter of 
March 13, 1865 345 

U. Newspaper article, in favor of General 
Meade, mentioned in letter of April 18, 
1865 350 

V. General Meade's letter to Colonel G. G. 
Benedict of March 16, 1870, on the Bat- 
tle of Gettysburg 350 

W. Testimony of General Meade before the Con- 
gressional Committee on the Conduct of 
the War relating to the Battle of Gettys- 
burg and subsequent movements .... 354 

X. Newspaper article, attack on General Meade 396 

Y. Pamphlet published by Colonel Meade in 
reply to General Doubleday's letter in the 
New York Times of April 1, 1883 .... 400 

Index 423 


Parts of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia covered by the 
operations of the Army of the Potomac in the Civil War, 
1861 to 1865 

Maps of the Battle of Gettysburg at end of volume: 




, June 28. 



night of June 28. 



night of June 29. 



noon of June 30. 



night of June 30. 



night of June 27. 



night of June 28, No. 2. 



night of June 29, No. 2. 



night of June 30, No. 2. 



2.30 p. M., July 1. 


Lines of march from the Rappahannock to Gettysburg 


The battle-field. 




, July 1, 10 a. M. 



July 1, 11 A. M. 



July 1, 2.30 p. m., No. 2. 



July 1, 12 p. m. 



July 2, 8.30 A. M. 



July 2, 4.30 p. M. 



July 3, 4.30 a. M. 



July 3, 1.00 p. M. 



night of July 5. 



night of July 6. 



night of July 5, No. 2. 



night of July 6, No. 2. 




Volume II 




On the afternoon of the same day on which this last letter was 
written, June 25, General Meade received the order of march for 
the following day, which was to bring his corps to Frederick City, 
Maryland. Accordingly, early in the morning of June 26, the corps 
started en route for that place, and going by way of Carter's Mill x 
and Leesburg, crossed the Potomac at the upper pontoon bridge, at 
Edwards's Ferry, and proceeded to within four miles of the Monocacy, 
where it encamped for the night. Resuming its march, early on the 
27th, it forded the Monocacy near its mouth, and arrived toward 
afternoon at Ballinger's Creek, just outside of Frederick City. 

After making proper dispositions for the encampment of the corps, 
General Meade rode into Frederick City with one or two of his staff, 
hoping to meet there General Hooker, whom he had not seen since 
breaking camp near Banks's Ford, on the Rappahannock, on the 13th 
of June, and to gain some information as to the plans and supposed 
whereabouts of the enemy; in which hope he was disappointed, Gen- 
eral Hooker not having yet arrived. 

Returned to camp, ignorant of a great change which had been 
decided upon and impended over him and the army, General Meade 
lay quietly asleep in his tent at three o'clock of the morning of June 
28, when he was aroused by hearing on the outside an inquiry for 
his tent, by a person who claimed to be the bearer of important de- 
spatches to him. This proved to be Colonel James A. Hardie, of 
General Halleck's staff, who entered General Meade's tent and exe- 
cuted his mission. 

What this mission might have been was the occasion of agitated 
comment among several of General Meade's aides, who, their tents 

1 Not shown on map. 


being in the immediate vicinity, were awakened by the stir in camp 
at that hour. That it had been executed in the dead of night, by 
an officer direct from the general-in-chief at the War Department, 
proved it to be of the last importance; but that was the only thing 
evident. What it portended, whether good or ill, to their general, 
no one could pretend to say. Enough, however, of the misunder- 
standings and difficulties with which he lately had had to contend 
was known to that little band to make some apprehensive that all 
was not well. The details of the interview between General Meade 
and Colonel Hardie will be left for the general himself to relate in 
the next letter to his wife. 

General Meade soon appeared from his tent, and designating one 
of his aides as the only officer, besides Colonel Hardie, to accompany 
him, just as the day was faintly dawning he mounted and set out 
with his two companions for the head-quarters of the army. The 
little party rode silently along, the conversation almost restricted to 
a few questions asked by General Meade, who seemed deeply ab- 
sorbed in his own thoughts, until, head-quarters being reached just 
after daylight, he was ushered into the tent of General Hooker, who 
was apparently ready to receive him. The interview between Gen- 
erals Hooker and Meade lasted for some time, when the latter issued 
from the tent and called to his aide, who had been patiently waiting 
outside, still uninformed as to what was taking place, but with a 
vague impression that the fate of his general was not to be that 
predicted by his brother aides-de-camp. Although, as he answered 
the general's summons, he could not fail to observe that the general 
continued very grave, he also perceived a familiar twinkle of the eye, 
denoting the anticipation of surprise at information to be imparted, 
the effect of which he was curious to see; and so, when he at last 
quietly said, "Well, George, I am in command of the Army of the 
Potomac," his hearer was not, after all, very much surprised. 

Giving immediate directions for his other aides-de-camp to join 
him at head-quarters, and for having personal effects brought over 
from the head-quarters of the Fifth Corps, the general retired into 
one of the tents, and in his consummate manner, in which all his 
powers were at his disposal at a moment's notice, at once bent his 
mind and energies to the task before him. The magnitude of this 
task may be faintly imagined but cannot be realized. It must be 
remembered that a change of commanders had been made in an 
army, not when, the preliminary manoeuvres having been executed, 
it awaited or was engaged in battle, where, in either case, a change 


of commanders is an ordinary incident of war, but that the change 
had been made in an army on the march, with its corps necessarily 
distributed over a great extent of territory, advancing to intercept 
and concentrate against an army of supposably equal or superior 
numbers, the whereabouts of which was not accurately known, led 
by the ablest general of the enemy. 

General Hooker, at the interview which had taken place between 
him and his successor, relieved it of all embarrassment by the extreme 
courtesy of his demeanor, expressing his gratification at the choice 
which had been made for his successor. General Meade responded 
in the same spirit, and assured General Hooker that the selection had 
been made without any action or even knowledge on his part; that 
it was against his personal inclinations; but that, as a soldier, sub- 
ject to authority, he felt bound to obey orders. 

Within a few hours after being relieved of the command of the 
army, General Hooker took his departure for Baltimore, the post 
designated in his orders. General Meade received no intimation from 
him of any plan that he had formed, or of any views that he held, 
and therefore naturally presumed that he had had no definite plans, 
but that he had been, up to that moment, as he himself was subse- 
quently obliged to be, governed by developments. 

It seems that the final disagreement between General Hooker and 
the general-in-chief, General Halleck, was with reference to the post 
and garrison of Harper's Ferry. General Hooker had visited Har- 
per's Ferry on the 27th, and thence addressed a recommendation to 
General Halleck to abandon the post and order the garrison to join 
the Army of the Potomac. General Halleck declined to consent to 
this, and General Hooker, in consequence of this action, feeling 
aggrieved, requested to be relieved from the command of the army. 
His request being complied with, soon after the arrival of General 
Meade he bade farewell to the army in a general order. 

With the order placing General Meade in command of the Army 
of the Potomac came the following letter from General Halleck: 

Headquarters op the Army, Washington, D. C, June 27, 1863. 
Major General G. G. Meade, 

Army of the Potomac. 

You will receive with this the order of the President placing you 
in command of the Army of the Potomac. Considering the circum- 
stances, no one ever received a more important command; and I 


cannot doubt that you will fully justify the confidence which the 
Government has reposed in you. 

You will not be hampered by any minute instructions from these 
headquarters. Your army is free to act as you may deem proper 
under the circumstances as they arise. You will, however, keep in 
view the important fact that the Army of the Potomac is the cover- 
ing army of Washington, as well as the army of operation against 
the invading forces of the rebels. You will therefore manoeuvre and 
fight in such a manner as to cover the Capital and also Baltimore, 
as far as circumstances will admit. Should General Lee move upon 
either of these places, it is expected that you will either anticipate 
him or arrive with him, so as to give him battle. 

All forces within the sphere of your operations will be held sub- 
ject to your orders. 

Harper's Ferry and its garrison are under your direct orders. 

You are authorized to remove from command and send from 
your army any officer or other person you may deem proper; and 
to appoint to command as you may deem expedient. 

In fine, General, you are intrusted with all the power and author- 
ity which the President, the Secretary of War, or the General-in- 
Chief can confer on you, and you may rely on our full support. 

You will keep me fully informed of all your movements and the 
positions of your own troops and those of the enemy, so far as known. 

I shall always be ready to advise and assist you to the utmost 
of my ability. 

Very respectfully, 

Your obedient servant, 
H. W. Halleck, 


Soon after his interview with General Hooker, General Meade 
telegraphed to the general-in-chief as follows: 

Frederick, Md., 7 a. m., June 28, 1863. 
H. W. Halleck, 

General-in-Chief : 
The order placing me in command of this army is received. As 
a soldier I obey it, and to the utmost of my ability will execute it. 
Totally unexpected as it has been, and in ignorance of the exact con- 
dition of the troops and position of the enemy, I can only now say 


that it appears to me I must move towards the Susquehanna, keeping 
Washington and Baltimore well covered, and if the enemy is checked 
in his attempt to cross the Susquehanna, or if he turns towards Balti- 
more, to give him battle. I would say that I trust that every avail- 
able man that can be spared will be sent to me, as, from all accounts, 
the enemy is in strong force. So soon as I can post myself up I will 
communicate more in detail. 

George G. Meade, 

Major General. 

The general then at once issued his order assuming the command 
of the army. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, June 28, 1863. 
General Orders, No. 67. 

By direction of the President of the United States, I hereby as- 
sume command of the Army of the Potomac. 

As a soldier, in obeying this order — an order totally unexpected 
and unsolicited — I have no promises or pledges to make. 

The country looks to this army to relieve it from the devastation 
and disgrace of a foreign invasion. Whatever fatigues and sacrifices 
we may be called upon to undergo, let us have in view, constantly, the 
magnitude of the interests involved, and let each man determine to 
do his duty, leaving to an all-controlling Providence the decision of 
the contest. 

It is with great diffidence that I relieve in the command of this 
army an eminent and accomplished soldier, whose name must ever 
appear conspicuous in the history of its achievements; but I rely 
upon the hearty support of my companions in arms to assist me in 
the discharge of the duties of the important trust which has been 
confided to me. 

George G. Meade, 

Major General, commanding. 

It would be well for the reader here briefly to review in sequence 
the events which had taken place, in which he cannot fail to see the 
cumulative causes which had led at last to the selection of General 
Meade for the command of the Army of the Potomac at this critical 

Going back to the Peninsular campaign, we have seen him as a 


brigade commander rendering efficient service, and falling wounded 
in the last of the Seven-Days' Battles, amidst the hottest of the 
fighting. We have seen him at the Second Battle of Bull Run, again 
as brigade commander, stemming the tide of defeat, and afterwards 
receiving the thanks of the commanding general. We have seen 
him at the head of his division storm the heights at South Mountain 
and gain the plaudits of the army, so exciting the admiration of his 
corps commander as to make him exclaim : " Look at Meade ! Why, 
with troops like those, led in that way, I can whip anything!" We 
have seen him at Antietam, at a most critical moment of the battle, 
selected in preference to superiors in rank, by the commanding gen- 
eral of the army, to replace his wounded corps commander. We 
have seen him at Fredericksburg selected, with his division, to make 
an assault, for the reason that "the Army of the Potomac had no 
braver soldier or better officer than General Meade to lead his divi- 
sion to the attack." And, finally, we have seen him at Chancellors- 
ville, the main reliance of the commanding general at a most disas- 
trous moment of that most disastrous field. 

We have gleaned from his letters of this latter period, through 
mention of the willingness and desire of his brother corps commanders, 
seniors in rank, to serve under him, knowledge of the high estimation 
in which he was held by them. We find it reported that that able 
soldier General John F. Reynolds, with whom he had long served 
and fought side by side, upon being offered the command of the 
army, declined the honor, and suggested General Meade, as the best 
fitted, in his estimation, for the command. And we find that the 
gallant soldier General John Sedgwick, when waited on after Chan- 
cellorsville, by one high in the confidence of the President, to hear 
his views as to the condition of the army, and to learn whether, in 
case a change of commanders should prove necessary, he would ac- 
cept the position, declined the command, and emphatically replied, 
in answer to the question as to the best appointment that could be 
made from those serving in the army, "Why, Meade is the proper 
one to command this army." 

It was the general recognition among the high officers of the 
army, through intimate association in the field in the face of the 
enemy, of General Meade's strict attention to duty, his constant 
presence with his command, quick perception, generous support at 
all times of his immediately superior officers, his promptness and de- 
cision in action, his firm self-reliance; it was, in a word, the general 


recognition of his rare combination of dutifulness, military talent, and 
gallantry that led at last to its legitimate result in the almost uni- 
versal sentiment among these officers of his pre-eminent fitness to 
command the Army of the Potomac. These were the influences, and 
these alone, that prompted the authorities at Washington, when the 
country was oppressed with dreadful uncertainty and dark forebod- 
ing as to what the next few days might bring forth, to intrust one 
unsupported by personal or political favor with the leadership of its 
last hope against an invading army, strong in numbers and flushed 
with success, which threatened the principal cities of the North and 
even the safety of the Capital itself. How grandly General Meade 
executed this trust, how completely he justified the sentiment of the 
army, how he restored bright hopes throughout the North, where 
before there was only deep depression, the events of the next few 
days will show. 

The change of commanders, although made at a time which all 
regarded as critical, was received by the army with its usual admi- 
rable spirit. The congratulations and assurances of hearty support, 
tendered on all sides, were particularly gratifying to the new com- 
mander. A feeling of confidence soon pervaded the army, greatly 
strengthened by observation of the systematic manner in which Gen- 
eral Meade at once set to work. The first day, the 28th of June, he 
devoted to gaining a knowledge of the strength and condition of the 
different corps, and their relative positions, and of the position and 
movements of the enemy; and when, on the following day, the army 
moved forward, the enthusiasm and determination evinced on all 
sides was a favorable omen of success. 

The Army of the Potomac consisted at this time of seven corps 
of infantry, one of cavalry, and the Artillery Reserve. 1 The First 
Corps, commanded by Major-General John F. Reynolds, numbered 
10,022 men; its position was at Middletown, Maryland. The Sec- 
ond Corps, commanded by Major-General Winfield Scott Hancock, 
numbered 12,996 men; it was on the march from Sugar Loaf Moun- 
tain, Maryland, under orders from General Hooker, to encamp at 
Frederick City. By orders of General Meade it was halted near Mo- 
nocacy Junction, and encamped there during the night. The Third 
Corps, commanded by Major-General Daniel E. Sickles, 2 numbered 
11,924 men; it was at Middletown. The Fifth Corps, lately Gen- 

iSee Map No. 1, position June 28. 

2 General Sickles resumed the command of the Third Corps, relieving General 
Birney, on the morning of the 28th of June. 


eral Meade's, now commanded by Major-General George Sykes, num- 
bered 12,509 men; it was at Frederick City, Maryland. The Sixth 
Corps, commanded by Major-General John Sedgwick, numbered 15,- 
679 men; it was at Hyattstown, Maryland. The Eleventh Corps, 
commanded by Major-General Oliver O. Howard, numbered 9,893 
men; it was, with the First and Third Corps, at Middletown. The 
Twelfth Corps, commanded by Major-General Henry W. Slocum, 
numbered 8,589 men; it arrived at 2 p. m., on the 28th, at Frederick 
City, from Knoxville, Maryland. The Artillery Reserve, commanded 
by Brigadier-General Robert O. Tyler, consisted of twenty-one bat- 
teries (108 guns) and 2,546 men; it was at Frederick City. 1 The 
Cavalry Corps, commanded by Brigadier-General Alfred Pleasanton, 
numbered 11,501 men; it was disposed on the flanks of the army. 2 
The First Division, commanded by Brigadier-General John Buford, 
on the left flank, at Middletown, and the Second Division, com- 
manded by Brigadier-General David McM. Gregg (which had been 
bringing up the rear of the army and covering its crossing of the 
Potomac), on the right flank, at various points between Frederick 
City and Ridgeville, on the road to Baltimore. The Third Division 
(formerly StahTs), commanded by Brigadier-General Judson Kilpat- 
rick, and lately added to the army, was at Frederick City. During 
the day, June 28, the First, Third, and Eleventh Corps were with- 
drawn from Middletown and concentrated in the neighborhood of 
Frederick City. 

From the meagre information obtainable by General Meade, and 
that chiefly through the public press, he was led to believe that the 
Army of Northern Virginia, commanded by General Robert E. Lee, 
and estimated at over 100,000 men, had crossed the Potomac, passed 
through^Hagerstown, and was marching up the Cumberland Valley. 
He decided to move as quickly as possible on the main line from 
Frederick City to Harrisburg, extending his wings as far as he could 
consistently with facility of rapid concentration, and to continue the 
movement until he either had come suddenly upon the enemy or 
had had reason to believe that the enemy was advancing upon him; 
his object, of course, being at all hazards (except uncovering Wash- 
ington and Baltimore) to compel the enemy to relinquish his hold 

1 The positions of the Artillery Reserve are not shown on the maps. 

2 The dotted line designating the cavalry situation on the maps simply shows 
the general line covered by the main divisions of the cavalry. Beyond this line 
their pickets and patrols were scouting the country for miles in all directions. 


upon the Susquehanna, and to accept battle. It was his determina- 
tion, subject to the necessity of general manoeuvres, to deliver battle 
wherever and whenever he could possibly find the enemy. 

Upon inquiry of the authorities at Washington whether he would 
be permitted to withdraw a portion of the force under General French, 
at Harper's Ferry, he was informed that it was now under his orders. 
Previously, he had been notified that the troops of General Schenck, 
outside of the defences of Baltimore, were subject to his orders, as 
were also those of General Couch at Harrisburg. However, as on 
June 29, telegraphic communication was cut off by the enemy's cav- 
alry with Baltimore and Washington, and as the distance to General 
Couch was too great for him to be available, no assistance was pos- 
sible from either of these quarters. The cutting of telegraphic com- 
munication by the enemy's cavalry between the army and Washing- 
ton, Baltimore, and other places had, although annoying in some 
respects, the redeeming feature of isolating the army and relieving the 
commanding general from the necessity of considering the usual sug- 
gestions from Washington and the thousand idle rumors which would 
have been brought to his attention, and of allowing him to concen- 
trate it upon his own army, that of the enemy, and upon the main 
purpose in view. 

During the day information was received by General Meade that 
a body of Confederate cavalry, the exact strength of which was not 
known, had crossed the Potomac at Seneca Falls, and was between 
his army and Washington. Two brigades of cavalry and a battery of 
artillery were at once despatched in search and pursuit of this force, 
which eventually proved to be the main body of Stuart's cavalry. 

Having perfected his plans, General Meade issued to the army 
the order of march for the following day: 1 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, 

Frederick, Md., June 28, 1863. 

The army will march to-morrow as follows: 
4 a. M. The 1st Corps, Major General Reynolds, by Lewistown 
and Mechanicstown to Emmettsburg, keeping the left of the road 
from Frederick to Lewistown, between J. P. Cramer's 2 and where 
the road branches to Utica and Cregerstown, to enable the 11th Corps 
to march parallel to it. 

*See Map No. 2, position night of June 28. 2 Not shown on map. 


4 A. M. The 11th Corps, Major General Howard, by Utica and 
Cregerstown to Emmettsburg. 

4 a. m. The 12th Corps, by Ceresville, 1 Walkersville and Woods- 
borough, to Taneytown. 

4 a. M. The 2d Corps, by Johnsville, Liberty and Union, 2 to 

4 a. M. The 3d Corps, by Woodsborough and Middleburg (from 
Walkersville), to Taneytown. 

The 5th Corps will follow the 2d Corps, moving at 8 a. m., camp- 
ing at Union. 3 

The 6th Corps, by roads to the right of the 5th and 2d Corps, to 
New Windsor. 

The Reserve Artillery will precede the 12th Corps, at 4 a. m., and 
camp between Middleburg and Taneytown. 

General Lockwood, 4 with his command, will report to and march 
with the 12th Corps. 

The Engineers and bridge-trains will follow the 5th Corps. 

Headquarters will move at 8 a. m. and be to-morrow night at 
Middleburg. Headquarters train will move by Ceresville and 
Woodsborough to Middleburg, at 8 a. m. 

The cavalry will guard the right and left flanks and the rear, and 
give the Commanding General information of the movement and of 
the enemy in front. 

Corps commanders and commanders of detached brigades will re- 
port by a staff officer their positions to-morrow night and on all 
marches in future. 

The corps moving on the different lines will keep up communica- 
tion from time to time, if necessary. They will camp in position, 
and guard their camps. Corps commanders will send out scouts in 
their front, as occasion offers, to bring in information. Strong ex- 
ertions are required and must be made to prevent straggling. 

By command of Major General Meade. 

S. Williams, 

Asst. Adjt. Gen'l. 

On the morning of the 29th of June, before leaving Frederick 
City, General Meade despatched to General Halleck a communica- 

1 Ceresville not shown on map. 2 Or Uniontown. 3 Or Uniontown. 
4 General Lockwood and command had just arrived from Baltimore as a re- 


tion in which, after giving the position the army would occupy by 
night, he said: 

"If Lee is moving for Baltimore, I expect to get between his main 
army and that place. If he is crossing the Susquehanna, I shall rely 
upon General Couch, with his force, holding him until I can fall upon 
his rear and give him battle. * * * I shall incline to the right to- 
wards the Baltimore and Harrisburg Road, to cover that and draw 
supplies from there if circumstances will permit it; my main objec- 
tive point being, of course, Lee's army, which I am satisfied has all 
passed through Hagerstown towards Chambersburg. My endeavors 
will be in my movements to hold my force well together, with the 
hope of falling on some portion of Lee's army in detail." 

General Meade further stated that the cavalry force between him 
and Washington, which had caused much anxiety in Washington, 
would be looked to, and added: "My main point being to find and 
fight the enemy, I shall have to submit to the cavalry raids around 
me, in some measure;" and also, in speaking of the impossibility, 
in the absence of telegraphic communication, of his giving orders 
to General Schenck, in Baltimore, or to the troops on the Potomac, 
in his rear, or to General Couch, at Harrisburg, he said: "These 
circumstances are beyond my control." 

Just before leaving Frederick City he seized the first opportunity 
that had offered to write personally to Mrs. Meade as to the won- 
drous change in his affairs. 

To Mrs. George G. Meade : 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, June 29, 1863. 
It has pleased Almighty God to place me in the trying position 
that for some time past we have been talking about. Yesterday 
morning, at 3 A. M., I was aroused from my sleep by an officer from 
Washington entering my tent, and after waking me up, saying he 
had come to give me trouble. At first I thought that it was either 
to relieve or arrest me, and promptly replied to him, that my con- 
science was clear, void of offense towards any man; I was prepared 
for his bad news. He then handed me a communication to read; 
which I found was an order relieving Hooker from the command and 
assigning me to it. As, dearest, you know how reluctant we both 
have been to see me placed in this position, and as it appears to be 
God's will for some good purpose — at any rate, as a soldier, I had 


nothing to do but accept and exert my utmost abilities to command 
success. This, so help me God, I will do, and trusting to Him, who 
in his good pleasure has thought it proper to place me where I am, 
I shall pray for strength and power to get through with the task 
assigned me. I cannot write you all I would like. I am moving 
at once against Lee, whom I am in hopes Couch will at least check 
for a few days; if so, a battle will decide the fate of our country and 
our cause. Pray earnestly, pray for the success of my country, (for 
it is my success besides). Love to all. I will try and write often, 
but must depend on George. 

The army, as ordered, had moved promptly, at four o'clock in 
the morning, and by nightfall, although the march was made over 
very bad roads, nearly all the corps found themselves at the speci- 
fied points. 1 The Second Corps, however, through delay in receiv- 
ing its orders, did not start until eight o'clock, and was halted one 
mile beyond Uniontown, by two o'clock at night, having in the in- 
terval accomplished, with its entire train, a march of over thirty 
miles. Frizelburg, its destination, was not reached; the distance 
from Monocacy Junction, from which it had started for Frizelburg, 
being considerably further than indicated on the maps. This delay 
in the movement of the Second Corps correspondingly delayed the 
Fifth Corps, which had to follow on the same road, and in conse- 
quence, the latter corps only reached Liberty instead of its destina- 
tion, Uniontown. The march was disagreeable and fatiguing, owing 
to a drizzling rain and the very bad condition of the roads. The 
general advance of the army was twenty miles. 

General Meade established his head-quarters at Middleburg, where 
he passed the night of the 29th of June. 

During the day he had been in constant communication with the 
advancing columns, the whole tenor of his instructions and orders 
looking to a rapid march. To General Sedgwick, who reported that 
he would be unable to reach New Windsor, he replied that it was of 
the utmost importance that he should move early the next morning, 
and, with his left at Westminster, occupy the railroad terminating 
at that place. He requested General Sickles to give his immediate 
personal attention to keeping his trains moving, which were reported 
at a standstill at Middleburg, and blocking the way. In reply to 
General Sykes, who reported some detention, he stated that he was 
i See Map No. 3, position night of June 29. 


satisfied with the progress made, and wished him to regulate his 
movements by endeavoring to cover just so much ground as he could 
without over-fatiguing the men. To his provost marshal he gave 
orders to have all stragglers collected and returned to their commands. 
He ordered General French, at Harper's Ferry, to remove, under es- 
cort, the public property from that place to Washington, and with 
the rest of his command, to join the army without delay; adding, that 
he expected to engage the enemy within a few days, and looked anx- 
iously to being reinforced by him. This order to General French was, 
on July 1, when it was found that it would be impossible for him to 
arrive in time, changed by instructions to him to remain where he 
then was, at Frederick City, for the purpose of keeping communica- 
tion open between that place and the army. 

Not much had been added during the day to the store of infor- 
mation regarding the movements of the enemy. The reports coming 
in from the front showed that the army was not in the immediate 
vicinity of the enemy. In fact, what little information was procur- 
able rather confirmed the opinion that the enemy was still moving 
in the direction of Harrisburg. 

The order of march for June 30, issued at Middleburg on the 29th, 
directed the Twelfth Corps, passing the Third Corps, to move to 
Littlestown. The Fifth Corps was ordered to the crossing of Pipe 
Creek, at Union Mills, on the road between Littlestown and West- 
minster. The Sixth Corps was ordered to move to Manchester; the 
First Corps to the crossing of Marsh Creek, half-way to Gettysburg; 
the Artillery Reserve, following the Twelfth Corps, to the crossing 
of Piney Run, 1 by the road between Littlestown and Taneytown. 
The order of march for these corps was, in fact, nothing but con- 
tinuing the execution of the plan of the previous day. It brought 
up the right flank to Manchester, the left to beyond Emmettsburg, 
and the centre to Littlestown; outlying corps being within easy 
supporting distance. 

From Middleburg, in the evening, General Meade again wrote 

To Mrs. George G. Meade : 

Headquarters, Middleburg, Md., June 29, 1863. 
We are marching as fast as we can to relieve Harrisburg, but 
have to keep a sharp lookout that the rebels don't turn around us 

1 Not shown on map. 


and get at Washington and Baltimore in our rear. They have a 
cavalry force in our rear, destroying railroads, etc., with the view of 
getting me to turn back; but I shall not do it. I am going straight 
at them, and will settle this thing one way or the other. The men 
are in good spirits; we have been reinforced so as to have equal 
numbers with the enemy, and with God's blessing I hope to be suc- 
cessful. Good-by! 

The army was off again promptly on the morning of June 30, 
and the respective corps reached their newly allotted positions before 

At 11.30 a. M., just before leaving Middleburg, General Meade 
sent a despatch, of which the following are extracts, to General Rey- 
nolds, in reply to a communication of his of that morning : * 

" The enemy undoubtedly occupy the Cumberland Valley in force. 
Whether the holding of the Cashtown Gap is to prevent our entrance, 
or is their advance against us, remains to be seen. * * * With Buford 
at Gettysburg and Mechanicstown, and a regiment in front of Em- 
mettsburg, you ought to be advised in time of their approach. In 
case of an advance in force, either against you, or Howard at Em- 
mettsburg, you must fall back to that place, and I will reinforce you 
with the corps nearest to you, which are Sickles's at Taneytown, 
and Slocum's at Littlestown. You are advised of the general posi- 
tion of the army. We are as concentrated as my present information 
of the present position of the enemy justifies. I have pushed out the 
cavalry in all directions to feel for them, and as soon as I can make 
up any positive opinion as to their position, I will move again. In 
the meantime, if they advance against me, I must concentrate at that 
point where they show the strongest force. * * * The only news we 
have beyond yours is that Stuart, with a large cavalry force, was in 
Westminster last night, and moved towards Gettysburg — supposed 
the same force that has been harassing in our rear. If, after occupy- 
ing your present position, it is in your judgment that you would be 
in a better position at Emmettsburg than where you are, you can 
fall back without waiting for the enemy or further orders. Your 
present position was given more with a view to an advance on Gettys- 
burg than a defensive point." 

During the day General Meade moved his head-quarters to Taney- 
town. The reports that here began to come in from the advance, 
i See Map No. 4, position noon of June 30. 


especially the cavalry, announced that the army was closely approach- 
ing the enemy. In consequence, General Meade placed General 
Reynolds in command of the left wing, consisting of his own corps, 
the First, and of the Third and Eleventh Corps. Orders were given 
to General Sickles to move his corps to Emmettsburg, and the two 
following circulars were forwarded to each corps of the army: 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, June 30, 1863. 

The Commanding General has received information that the 
enemy are advancing, probably in strong force, on Gettysburg. It 
is the intention to hold this army pretty nearly in the position it now 
occupies, until the plans of the enemy shall have been more fully 

Three corps, 1st, 3d and 11th, are under the command of Major 
General Reynolds, in the vicinity of Emmettsburg, the 3d Corps being 
ordered up to that point. The 12th Corps is at Littlestown. Gen- 
eral Gregg's division of cavalry is believed to be now engaged with 
the cavalry of the enemy, near Hanover Junction. 

Corps commanders will hold their commands in readiness at a 
moment's notice, and upon receiving orders, to march against the 
enemy. Their trains (ammunition trains excepted) must be parked 
in the rear of the place of concentration. Ammunition wagons and 
ambulances will alone be permitted to accompany the troops. The 
men must be provided with three-days' rations in haversacks, and 
with sixty rounds of ammunition in the boxes and upon the person. 

Corps commanders will avail themselves of all the time at their 
disposal to familiarize themselves with the roads communicating with 
the different corps. 

By command of Major General Meade. 

S. Williams, 

Asst. Adjt. Gen'l. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, June 30, 1863. 

The Commanding General requests that, previous to the engage- 
ment soon expected with the enemy, corps and all other command- 
ing officers address their troops, explaining to them briefly the im- 
mense issues involved in the struggle. The enemy are on our soil; 
the whole country now looks anxiously to this army to deliver it 
from the presence of the foe. Our failure to do so will leave us no 


such welcome as the swelling of millions of hearts with pride and joy, 
as our success would give to every soldier of this army. Homes, fire- 
sides and domestic altars are involved. The army has fought well 
heretofore; it is believed that it will fight more desperately and 
bravely than ever, if it is addressed in fitting terms. 

Corps and other commanders are authorized to order the instant 
death of any soldier who fails in his duty at this hour. 
By command of Major General Meade. 

S. Williams, 

Asst. Adjt. Gen'l. 

These circulars were soon succeeded by the following orders for 
the march of July 1, to be executed immediately upon their receipt: 1 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, June 30, 1863. 
Orders : 

Headquarters at Taneytown: 
3d Corps to Emmettsburg. 1st Corps to Gettysburg. 

2d Corps to Taneytown. 11th Corps to Gettysburg. 

(or supporting distance). 
5th Corps to Hanover. 12th Corps to Two Taverns. 

Cavalry to front and flanks, well out in all directions, giving 
timely notice of operations and movements of the enemy. All empty 
wagons, surplus baggage, useless animals, and impedimenta of every 
sort, to Union Bridge, 2 three miles from Middleburg; a proper officer 
from each corps with them; supplies will be brought up there as 
soon as practicable. 

The General relies upon every commander to put his column in 
the lightest possible order. The Telegraph Corps to work east from 
Hanover, repairing the line, and all commanders to work repairing 
the line in their vicinity between Gettysburg and Hanover. 

Staff-officers to report daily from each corps, and with orderlies 
to leave for orders. Prompt information to be sent into headquarters 
at all times. All ready to move to the attack at any moment. 

The Commanding General desires you to be informed that, from 
present information, Longstreet and Hill are at Chambersburg, partly 
towards Gettysburg; Ewell, at Carlisle and York; movements indi- 
cate a disposition to advance from Chambersburg to Gettysburg. 
General Couch telegraphs, 29th, his opinion that enemy's operations 

i See Map No. 5, position night of June 30. 2 Not shown on map. 


on Susquehanna are more to prevent co-operation with this army 
than offensive. 

The General believes he has relieved Harrisburg and Philadelphia, 
and now desires to look to his own army and assume position for of- 
fensive or defensive, as occasion requires, or rest to the troops. It 
is not his desire to wear the troops out by excessive fatigue and 
marches, and thus unfit them for the work they will be called upon 
to perform. 

Vigilance, energy and prompt response to the orders from head- 
quarters are necessary, and the personal attention of corps com- 
manders must be given to reduction of impedimenta. The orders 
and movements from these headquarters must be carefully and con- 
fidentially preserved, that they do not fall into the enemy's hands. 
By command of Major General Meade. 

S. Williams, 

Asst. Adjt. Gen'l. 

Late in the afternoon, and during the evening, reports from the 
cavalry came in, giving notice of the presence of the enemy on 
both flanks. General Buford had moved his division of cavalry from 
Middletown through Turner's Gap, 1 successively through Boones- 
boro, Cavetown, and Monterey Springs, 1 and had encamped on the 
night of the 29th of June a few miles short of Fairfield. Moving 
forward very early the next morning, to reach Gettysburg by the 
way of Fairfield, upon approaching the latter place he came across 
a body of the enemy, and after skirmishing sufficiently to ascertain 
it to be in strong force, not wishing to bring on an engagement there, 
as Fairfield was four or five miles west of the route assigned him, 
he drew off toward Emmettsburg and was soon on the direct road 
to Gettysburg. Entering that place in the forenoon, just as the 
body of the enemy was about to enter it from the direction of Cash- 
town, he prepared to advance upon them, when they retired in the 
direction from which they had come, leaving pickets about four or 
five miles from Gettysburg. 

General Kilpatrick, who that morning had moved his division of 
cavalry from Littlestown to Hanover, reported that, on entering the 
latter town, he had encountered a body of Stuart's cavalry and, after 
a sharp fight, had succeeded in driving it out of the town, capturing 
several prisoners and a battle-flag, the enemy retreating in the direc- 

1 Not shown on map. 


tion of York. He stated, also, that it was reported that a division 
of the enemy's infantry had left York at daybreak. 

This information, with various other reports, having reached 
General Meade during the night of June 30, he was convinced that 
the enemy was advised of his movements. It was therefore evident 
to him that a general engagement would not be long deferred. 

Since assuming the command of the army everything had been 
done by General Meade to push it forward. Under General Hooker 
it had been almost continuously marching and manoeuvring, after 
leaving the Rappahannock, and now, with only one day's intermis- 
sion, it had just completed two hard marches. The weather for the 
greatest part of the time had been intensely hot, the roads stifling 
from dust, and besides, for the last two days there had been a dis- 
agreeable, drizzling rain. General Meade feared that the troops 
would break down if pushed any harder, and in reporting to General 
Halleck, on the afternoon of June 30, he stated that he might be 
obliged to rest them for a day; although, of course, he should be 
compelled to govern his action by what he learned of the movements 
of the enemy. 

Having made all his dispositions for the following day, General 
Meade wrote home: 

To Mrs. George G. Meade: 

Headquarters, Taneytown, June 30, 1863. 
All is going on well. I think I have relieved Harrisburg and 
Philadelphia, and that Lee has now come to the conclusion that he 
must attend to other matters. I continue well, but much oppressed 
with a sense of responsibility and the magnitude of the great inter- 
ests entrusted to me. Of course, in time I will become accustomed 
to this. Love, blessings and kisses to all. Pray for me and beseech 
our heavenly Father to permit me to be an instrument to save my 
country and advance a just cause. 

Let us now turn to the Confederate army, to learn what it had 
been doing since crossing the Potomac. 

On the night of June 27 — that is to say, about the very same 
time when General Meade was put in command of the Army of the 
Potomac — the whole of the Army of Northern Virginia was across 


the Potomac, had passed up the Cumberland Valley, and had en- 
tered Pennsylvania. 

Before beginning this campaign the Army of Northern Virginia 
had been reorganized. It now consisted of three corps of infantry: 
the First Corps, under command of General James Longstreet; the 
Second, under Lieutenant-General Richard S. Ewell; the Third, 
under Lieutenant-General A. P. Hill; and the cavalry, under Major- 
General J. E. B. Stuart. It is supposed that, preparatory to so im- 
portant a campaign as that about to ensue, involving an invasion of 
the heart of the hostile territory, and from the success of which im- 
portant results were expected to flow, General Lee recruited his army 
from every available source. 

General Ewell's corps had led the advance of the infantry, and 
Rodes's division of it reached the Potomac on June 15. It crossed 
the river at once, and, resting on the other side for a few days, re- 
sumed its march on the 19th of June, pursuing the direct route by 
way of Hagerstown and Greencastle to Chambersburg, where it was 
overtaken by General Johnson's division of the same corps, which 
had crossed the Potomac at Shepardstown on the 18th of June. 
Preceded by Jenkins's brigade of cavalry, together they advanced to 
Carlisle, arriving there on the 27th. 1 The Third Division of General 
Ewell's corps (Early's) crossed the Potomac at Shepardstown on the 
22d, marched along the western base of South Mountain, and reached 
Greenwood on the 24th. Resuming his march on the 26th, and pro- 
ceeding by way of Cashtown, Mummasburg, and Berlin, General 
Early reached York on the 28th. 2 At Cashtown he had detached 
one of his brigades (Gordon's), with White's battalion of cavalry, to 
march by way of Gettysburg, which force passed through the town 
on the same day, driving out of it some militia cavalry, and after 
levying contribution upon the town, and burning some bridges and 
cars, it proceeded on the direct road to York and entered that place 
on the 28th, just in advance of the rest of the division. From that 
point General Early pushed out General Gordon's brigade, with cav- 
alry, to seize the bridge which crosses the Susquehanna at Wrights- 
ville. It had been his intention to cross his whole command by this 
bridge, march on Lancaster, cut the Pennsylvania Railroad, and then 
march upon and attack Harrisburg in the rear. His purpose, how- 
ever, was frustrated by a body of militia stationed at the bridge, 
which, upon the approach of General Gordon, retreated across it to 

1 See Map No. 6, position night of June 27. 

2 General Early encamped on the 27th at Berlin. 


Columbia and fired the bridge. General Early, thus foiled in his 
intention, then moved General Gordon's brigade back to York, and 
sent out parties in all directions, burning bridges and railway stations. 

On the 24th and 25th the corps of Generals Longstreet and Hill 
had crossed the Potomac; that of the former at Williamsport, of 
the latter at Shepardstown. Concentrating at Hagerstown, they 
marched on Chambersburg, where they arrived on the 27th and 

From this point General Lee, present in person with this part of 
his army, and unaware of the crossing of the Potomac by the Fed- 
eral army, ordered a general advance of his forces, on the 30th, on 
Harrisburg, a movement with which that of General Early, detailed 
above, and frustrated by the burning of the bridge over the Susque- 
hanna at Wrights ville, was intended to be combined. 

General Ewell, who, on the 27th, we left at Carlisle with the divi- 
sions of Rodes and Johnson, was prepared and waiting to begin the 
movement on Harrisburg. The cavalry had thoroughly reconnoi- 
tred the country in that direction, their advanced scouts approach- 
ing on the 29th to within a few miles of the town. 

The troops were in the highest spirits. Everything to them 
looked favorable. Although they had marched far since leaving 
the Rappahannock, they had had, at intervals since crossing the 
Potomac, several days of rest. The campaign, so far, had been 
eminently successful. They had swept down the Shenandoah Val- 
ley, carrying everything before them. Their march up the Cumber- 
land Valley had been unopposed, and made so leisurely that they 
had been able to levy from the towns they passed through, and from 
the surrounding country, ample contributions in provisions and in 
all needful supplies of clothing, forage, etc. The greatest enthusiasm 
pervaded the ranks. It was taken for granted that the order to 
march meant the fall of the capital of the great State of Pennsyl- 

General D. N. Couch, a veteran of the Army of the Potomac, 
had, early in June, been summoned to take command of the newly 
organized Department of the Susquehanna, head-quarters at Harris- 
burg. In the brief interval allowed by coming events, every effort had 
been made by this officer to fortify the approaches to Harrisburg, situ- 
ated on the left bank of the Susquehanna. Under various calls of 
the President, and of the Governor of Pennsylvania, for troops for 
the pending emergency, he had been able to collect a respectable 
force of militia, which was hastily organized as well as circumstances 


would permit, and divided into commands over which he placed a 
number of experienced officers absent from the army, either recov- 
ering from wounds or on leave of absence, who promptly volunteered 
their services on the occasion. It was upon this force that General 
Meade counted for checking and delaying General Lee's advance 
sufficiently to enable him to come to its relief. More than this was 
not to be expected. Undoubtedly it would have acquitted itself 
as well as its hasty organization and discipline, untried by battle, 
would have admitted. It is not to be supposed that it could 
have long withstood the bronzed veterans of the Army of Northern 

But suddenly upon the strategical horizon appeared a foe worthy 
of the steel of the Army of Northern Virginia. General Lee received 
word at Chambersburg, through a scout, that his old antagonist of 
many a hard-fought field, the Army of the Potomac, was rapidly 
advancing. Necessity demanded that attention should be first paid 
to its movements. It was on the night of the 28th of June that Gen- 
eral Lee received the information that the whole of the Federal army 
had crossed the Potomac and had advanced beyond Frederick City. 
This at once compelled him to stop the general advance upon Har- 
risburg and concentrate his army. 1 

General Lee states in his report of the campaign that the absence 
of the cavalry, commanded by General Stuart, had prevented his 
obtaining definite information of the movements of the Federal army. 
Judging by his report, he certainly did not expect General Stuart to 
pursue the course he took. General Stuart, on the contrary, speaks 
positively in his report of his having had authority from General 
Lee for the movement which he made. The discrepancy is easily 
reconcilable by the supposition that General Lee's orders to General 
Stuart were not explicit, but allowed a certain latitude, which in his 
judgment was not used with discretion. This is evidently not the 
place to enter upon a discussion of the merits of the case, even if 
it could be done with the faintest hope of adjusting satisfactorily the 
burden of responsibility. The province of this history extends no 
further than to state that there was evidently some misunderstanding 
of intention between Generals Lee and Stuart as to the projected 
movements of the latter when detached from the Confederate army. 
One thing only in this connection is certain: that from the 24th of 
June to the 2d of July General Lee was without the services of the 
1 See Map No. 7, position night of June 28, No. 2. 


main body of his cavalry, under General Stuart, upon which he had 
counted for information of the enemy's movements. 

In what manner the cavalry of General Stuart had been engaged 
from the 24th to the 30th of June must now form the subject of a 
necessary digression, in order to afford the reader a clear compre- 
hension of the way in which all the forces on both sides eventually 
reached the field of Gettysburg. 

On the night of June 24th General Stuart, who had since the 
affairs at Aldie and Upper ville been watching Ashby's and Snicker's 
Gaps, in the Blue Ridge, secretly rendezvoused three brigades of cav- 
alry (Hampton's, Fitz Lee's, and W. H. F. Lee's, the latter under 
command of Colonel Chambliss) at Salem Depot, on the Manassas 
Gap Railroad. It was his intention to move in rear of the Army of 
the Potomac, intercept its communications with Washington, delay 
its passage over the Potomac, embarrass its advance, and then join 
General Lee north of the Potomac, and, placing himself on the right 
flank of the Confederate army, take part in the purposed movement 
on Harrisburg and the Susquehanna. The cavalry brigades of Rob- 
ertson and Jones were left to hold the positions on the Blue Ridge 
which he was leaving. 

Marching from Salem at 1 A. M. on June 25, and moving to the 
right, he first tried to pass by way of Haymarket and Gainesville to 
the west of Centreville. Finding General Hancock, with the Second 
Corps, marching in this direction, and, as he expresses it, "having 
the right of way," he moved back to Buckland, and marched thence 
to Brentsville and to the crossing of Bull Run at Wolf's Run Shoal. 
Here he crossed on the morning of the 27th, and pushing ahead 
through Fairfax Court House and Dranesville, striking the Potomac 
opposite the mouth of Seneca Creek on the night of the same day, 
by great exertions got his whole force across the river by twelve 
o'clock that night. At this point he captured a good many prisoners, 
and supplies in boats on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, destroyed 
a lock gate, and otherwise inflicted much damage. He here ascer- 
tained that the Federal army had crossed the Potomac, and moving 
toward Frederick City, was interposing between General Lee and 
himself. Now realizing the importance of reaching his commanding 
general as speedily as possible, he determined to push directly north, 
hoping to come up with Early's column, which he knew ought to be 
at York. Starting soon on the 28th, he was not long in reaching 
Rockville, on the main highway between Washington and Frederick. 


Brushing away a few cavalrymen belonging to the defences of Wash- 
ington, he here cut the telegraph wires and captured a large wagon 
train of supplies for the Army of the Potomac, together with a num- 
ber of prisoners. The train he very effectually destroyed, reserving 
only such wagons and supplies as could be carried along. 

This was the point of time at which, as will be perceived by the 
preceding narrative, General Meade was first apprised of the pres- 
ence of the enemy's cavalry. 

The raid upon Rockville occupied the cavalry a good part of the 
day. When finished, it pushed forward and reached Brookville at 
night, when, finding that the number of prisoners was embarrassing, 
they were paroled, and it kept on, marching all night, passing through 
Cooksville on the morning of the 29th, and striking the Baltimore and 
Ohio Railroad at Hood's Mill. Here the cavalry tore up the track 
for miles, destroyed the bridge at Sykesville, and cut the telegraph 
wires, thus severing all communication between the Army of the 
Potomac and Washington and Baltimore. Hence it marched direct 
on Westminster, reaching that place at 5 p. m. on June 29, where it 
had a smart skirmish with a portion of the Fifth Delaware Cavalry, 
which had been sent out from Baltimore. It soon disposed of this 
force, though with the loss of two officers and several men. The head 
of the column was halted that night (the 29th) at Union Mills, while 
the column remained strung out between that place and Westminster. 

Early on June 30 the cavalry was off again, and going by a cross 
cut reached Hanover about 10 a. m., just as General Kilpatrick's 
column of cavalry was passing through the town. A severe fight 
ensued, which lasted several hours, and resulted in General Stuart's 
falling back from the town. The situation had become critical for 
him. Much embarrassed by what captured wagons he had retained, 
and his direct route north intercepted by General Kilpatrick, he de- 
termined to make a detour to the right, through Jefferson, and thence 
in the direction of York, trusting to be able to join General Early's 
column of infantry. He hastened forward, therefore, as fast as com- 
patible with the fatigued condition of men and horses, now almost 
spent with marching. Up to this time he had had no communication 
with General Lee, and had been unable to find out where the army 
was. But, having accompanied General Stuart thus far, we must 
leave him struggling along on this dark night, over rough roads, to 
return to General Lee, and resume the main thread of the narrative 
by mention of the new dispositions necessitated by the knowledge 


which he had suddenly acquired of the movement of the Army of 
the Potomac. 

It was said, before entering upon the digression which has ac- 
counted for the absence of General Stuart's cavalry, and for General 
Lee's prolonged ignorance of the movements of the Army of the 
Potomac — circumstances dependent upon each other — that General 
Lee had, upon receiving the intelligence of the presence of that army 
beyond Frederick City, at once changed his plans and countermanded 
the movement upon Harrisburg. The time of a possible coup de main 
had now evidently passed. Immediate concentration was of vital im- 
portance to the Confederate army. Just what General Meade said, 
in one of his hastily written missives, that he thought he had obliged 
the enemy to do the enemy had been obliged to do; for by his own 
dispositions in advancing, to have relieved the threatened outlying 
places, Harrisburg and Washington, the enemy's objective points in 
the zone of operations, meant that the enemy must concentrate or 
be lost. 

Consequently General Lee at once addressed himself to the task 
of concentration, and fearing lest his communications by way of the 
Cumberland Valley should be interrupted, he determined, in order 
to prevent a movement of the Army of the Potomac further toward 
the west, to concentrate his army east of the mountains. Accordingly 
Generals Longstreet and Hill were ordered to concentrate at Cash- 
town, and General Ewell was ordered to withdraw from Harrisburg 
to the same point. 

Under these orders, General Ewell, on the 29th, sent Johnson's 
division, with the trains, back by way of Shippensburg to Green- 
wood, and taking Rodes's division himself, left Carlisle on the morn- 
ing of the 30th, and passing through Petersburg, halted at Heidlers- 
burg and bivouacked for the night. 1 On the same day, the 29th, that 
these two divisions marched, General Ewell despatched orders to his 
remaining division, Early's, at York, to retire and join the rest of 
the corps on the west side of South Mountain. General Early, on 
the 30th, moved in that direction, marching by way of Berlin toward 
Heidlersburg, so as to be able to move thence either to Shippensburg 
or Greenwood, as circumstances might demand, and encamped that 
night about three miles from Heidlersburg. 

General Hill, at Chambersburg, moved Heth's division, on the 
29th, to Cashtown, followed the next morning by the other two divi- 
1 See Map No. 8, position night of June 29, No. 2. 


sions of his corps. Heth, on the morning of the 30th, still in the ad- 
vance, sent Pettigrew's brigade of his division forward from Cash- 
town to Gettysburg, to secure a supply of shoes that he had heard 
were there. Pettigrew, approaching the suburbs of Gettysburg, un- 
expectedly came across General Buford's cavalry, which he, supposing 
it to be supported by infantry, did not deem it advisable to encounter, 
but falling back to Cashtown, reported the presence of the enemy. 

General Longstreet, with two divisions, followed General Hill, on 
the 30th, and was at Greenwood that night. He left his Third Divi- 
sion (Pickett's) at Chambersburg, guarding the trains, to await the 
arrival of Imboden, who, with a brigade of cavalry, had been at 
McConnellsburg, and had been ordered to Chambersburg to relieve 
Pickett. Up to that time General Imboden had been operating on 
the left of the Confederate army on its march into Maryland and 
Pennsylvania, and had inflicted great damage along the Baltimore 
and Ohio Railroad between Martinsburg and Cumberland, 1 and to 
the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal; had been at Hancock on the 27th; 
and, under orders, had marched to McConnellsburg, collecting sup- 
plies all along his route. 

The reader has followed the strategical operations of the oppos- 
ing forces. He sees them now almost face to face, in all but battle- 
array. On the night of June 30, the Army of the Potomac occupied 
the following positions: 2 General Buford, with two brigades of cav- 
alry, having, as mentioned, caused the advance of Pettigrew's bri- 
gade to retire upon Cashtown, was at Gettysburg, with his pickets 
well thrown out and patrols scouring the country in all directions, 
gathering information. General Reynolds was on Marsh Creek, four 
miles from Gettysburg, ready to march for that place early the next 
morning. General Howard was within supporting distance of Gen- 
eral Reynolds, between him and Emmettsburg. General Sickles was 
at Emmettsburg. General Hancock was at Uniontown. General 
Slocum was about a mile beyond Littlestown, on the road to Han- 
over. General Sykes was at Union Mills. General Sedgwick was 
within two miles of Manchester. General Gregg, with his division of 
cavalry, was at Manchester, and General Kilpatrick, with his division, 
at Hanover. General Meade's head-quarters were at Taneytown. 

The same night, the 30th of June, the Army of Northern Virginia 
was disposed in the following manner: General Hill was at Cashtown; 

1 About thirty miles west of Hancock, off of map. 

2 See Map No. 9, position night of June 30, No. 2. 


his advance, consisting of Heth's and Pender's divisions, toward 
Gettysburg; his Third Division (Anderson's) at Fayetteville. General 
Longstreet, with two of his divisions (McLaw's and Hood's), was at 
Greenwood; his Third Division (Pickett's) at Chambersburg. Gen- 
eral Ewell, with Rodes's division, was at Heidlersburg. General 
Early's division was within three miles of Heidlersburg. General 
Johnson, with his division, was at Scotland. Jenkins's brigade of 
cavalry was with General Johnson, convoying General Ewell's trains. 
Colonel White's battalion was on General Early's left, on the direct 
road from York to Gettysburg. General Stuart, with the main body 
of the cavalry, was, as we have seen, making the best of his way 
between Jefferson -and Dover, searching for some portion of the main 
body of the army. General Lee's head-quarters had been just out- 
side of Chambersburg since the 25th. On the morning of the 30th 
he rode to Greenwood, where he passed the night. 

When Lee started from Fredericksburg he could have contem- 
plated nothing more definite than the invasion of Pennsylvania by 
such a march that, while his right flank was for a long time protected 
by the Blue Ridge and his base of supplies well established at the 
most salient bend of the Potomac toward the zone of his contem- 
plated operations, he should be able, by spreading out his corps over 
that zone, to threaten, and even to capture, Washington, Baltimore, 
Lancaster, Harrisburg, and also, in this event, Philadelphia. Of so 
much of a plan of operations as involved threatening these places he 
could be sure, but of nothing more, leaving all else to be determined 
by circumstances, which hourly changed, and which culminated in 
the battle of Gettysburg. 

But Lee's march, even from the beginning, was compelled to have 
reference to the known and the probable movements of the Army of 
the Potomac, although those movements were trammelled by a re- 
sponsibility from which Lee was exempt — the necessity of covering 
a capital and two rich and populous cities. Hooker, constrained 
by Lee's initiative to follow his course as nearly as possible in a 
parallel line, and to confine Lee's march to one line of invasion, had 
still that other necessity imposed upon him, to pursue in such a 
manner, at such a rate, and with such dispositions, as to make sure 
of covering at least Washington and Baltimore. Up, therefore, to 
the moment when Hooker, having crossed the Potomac, was super- 
seded by Meade, at Frederick City, Maryland, although the move- 


ments of the two armies had acted and reacted on each other, they 
were then, from that time forth to the end, to influence each other 
reciprocally, with ever quicker and quicker impulse. From the time 
when Meade took command, the enemy having swept out toward the 
east from beyond the mountains, the advance of the Army of the 
Potomac had to be well extended toward the right as well as toward 
the left. As for the determination of the exact locality of the battle- 
field, if there were to be a battle, it did not depend upon the deci- 
sion of either Meade or Lee, but upon many circumstances which 
each could modify, but could not altogether control; for besides the 
circumstances of ground and the disposition of troops, each general 
was by his action creating varying circumstances for the other. Not 
until the order came to march upon Gettysburg, did circumstances 
prescribe to each exactly the same course. When Lee's information 
that the Army of the Potomac had reached Frederick City and was 
advancing, caused him to recall Ewell from Carlisle and Early from 
York, he had accepted the necessity of his own concentration, and 
the consequence of the enemy's concentration to meet it. But the 
exact point where the battle was to take place must have still re- 
mained at that time an insoluble problem to both generals. 

The battle-field might have been anywhere from Chambersburg 
and Heidlersburg, and beyond, counting from west to east; or any- 
where from Chambersburg and Heidlersburg to Emmettsburg and 
Pipe Creek, counting from north to south. Ewell and Early could 
just as easily have countermarched to Lee at Chambersburg as to 
Cashtown, near Gettysburg. But Gettysburg, although somewhat 
more distant than Chambersburg from Lee's base at Williamsport, 
had for him the inestimable advantage, in view of the then position 
of the Army of the Potomac, of rendering secure his line of commu- 
nication with Williamsport. His marching on Gettysburg meant the 
maintenance of the invasion. He was compelled, under the circum- 
stances of Meade's advance, to converge upon Gettysburg, but not 
necessarily with the knowledge that the battle would take place there. 
That was a question which depended upon the final action of the 
Army of the Potomac. If the Army of the Potomac had not at that 
point of time been so well advanced and in hand as it proved to be, 
despite the necessities which had embarrassed its progress, Lee must 
either have retreated and abandoned the invasion, or else have ad- 
vanced south beyond Gettysburg. 

Lee had no alternative but to deliver battle speedily or speedily 


to retreat. In the contingency suggested, of the Army of the Po- 
tomac not having been sufficiently advanced and in hand as to be 
able to meet the enemy at Gettysburg, Lee would have been obliged 
to push beyond, and in all probability the battle would have taken 
place on Pipe Creek, for the simple reason that, Meade having com- 
pelled the enemy to relinquish the hold which he was about to take 
upon the Susquehanna, there was no such urgent necessity of imme- 
diate fighting laid upon him as upon Lee. The tables had been sud- 
denly turned. Only two days before the battle it was more urgent 
for the Army of the Potomac to meet the Army of Northern Virginia 
than for the Army of Northern Virginia to meet the Army of the 
Potomac. Now, Meade was in a position where it was more urgent 
for Lee to seek him than to be sought; for not only was the line of 
the Susquehanna safe, and Washington and Baltimore covered, but 
Lee was in a hostile country, with the line of his communications 

That neither general knew of the tactical importance of Gettys- 
burg is no discredit to either, in view of the slight knowledge in both 
armies of the country in which they were operating, and in view of 
the poorness of the maps. The place of Lee's concentration was 
dictated solely by his knowledge of the strategic importance of Get- 
tysburg, under the circumstances of his having been compelled to 
withdraw Ewell from the direction of Harrisburg; but exactly where 
the battle would be fought he could not have known until much later 
than the time of his issuing orders for the concentration of his corps 
at Gettysburg. 

Similarly, Meade, although he knew of the strategic importance 
of Gettysburg, and consequently, that Lee might attempt to con- 
centrate there, could not, twenty-four hours before the battle, have 
been able, any more than Lee, to predict with certainty that the 
impending battle would take place at Gettysburg. Then, at once, 
from that moment, events hastened on, and what had only a short 
while before taken days to develop became matter of hourly devel- 
opment, until both commanders found themselves urging their troops 
forward toward Gettysburg, both compelled by the fact of its stra- 
tegical relations to their previous movements, but neither, until the 
actual ground was reached, at all aware of the military strength of 
the two positions that it affords. 

To sum up, Meade's movements compelled Lee to concentrate 
somewhere; the strategical importance of Gettysburg, growing out 


of the relative positions of the opposing forces, constrained Lee to 
endeavor to concentrate there; and that same cause, in turn, con- 
strained Meade to endeavor to anticipate, or at least to meet him 

On the night of June 30, Meade became satisfied, from informa- 
tion received from various sources, that the enemy had relinquished 
his hold upon the Susquehanna, through having become aware of the 
movements of the Army of the Potomac, and was in consequence con- 
centrating his forces. He was therefore aware that he might expect 
shortly to come in contact with the enemy, but when and where, as 
has been proved, it was then impossible to predict with certainty. 
In order to be prepared, if possible on ground of his own choosing, 
to give him battle, in case he should advance over the South Moun- 
tain, Meade, while on the march, had instructed his engineers to 
make an examination with reference to the selection of ground having 
relation to the then general position of the army, upon which, if oc- 
casion should arise, the army might find it desirable to concentrate. 

On June 30, General Humphreys, commanding the Second Divi- 
sion of the Third Corps, was instructed by the commanding general 
to make a similar examination at Emmettsburg, and on the follow- 
ing day Reynolds was instructed to acquaint himself thoroughly with 
the country, conferring, if expedient, with General Humphreys as to 
the ground. He had previously been told that he might fall back on 
Emmettsburg if he thought, after examination, that it was a better 
position than where he was at Marsh Creek. 

As the result of the first examination mentioned, a position on 
the general line of Pipe Creek had been selected for the contingency 
of battle in that vicinity, and a circular was issued, notifying corps 
commanders that the occupation of that position might become nec- 
essary in the specified eventuality, in which they were directed how 
to move, and where to place their troops along that line. 

The intention of this circular has sometimes been much misun- 
derstood. It was written before Meade had any positive knowledge 
that the enemy was moving on the Cashtown Road. In fact, all 
that he positively knew at the time of the issue of the order was that 
the enemy was concentrating. The circular was merely a prelim- 
inary order of manoeuvre to meet a given contingency. This circular 
has also been misrepresented by some who can hardly be thought 
to have misunderstood it, but who, it must be supposed, were actu- 
ated in their misinterpretation of it by desire to detract from Meade's 


military reputation. These persons have asserted that the circular 
proves that, at that time, Meade was desirous of retiring before, in- 
stead of fighting, the enemy. Now, the whole tenor of the circular 
is opposed to that theory, as completely as Meade's other action, 
from the moment of his taking command, is opposed to that theory. 
The circular was written late on the night of June 30. The inten- 
tion was that it should be in the hands of the several corps com- 
manders early on the following morning, July 1. There was, how- 
ever, delay in expediting it, so much so that General Reynolds never 
received it. 

Language is powerless to express more clearly than this circular 
does the idea that, through the fortunes of war, the army might 
have to receive, instead of to make, an attack; that, if attack were 
made by the enemy, then the position, provisorily selected at Pipe 
Creek, being strong, and known to the corps commanders, was the 
best possible to occupy; and that, finally, as no man could say what 
a few hours might bring forth, the army might be obliged to take 
the offensive from the positions which it then occupied. In one word, 
if the army was obliged at first to receive attack, then there was the 
prearranged place to receive it; if the army had to take the offensive, 
then orders would be forthcoming for that. And this, which follows, 
was the clear and concise manner in which the idea was expressed, so 
that no honorable man in his senses, with full knowledge of the cir- 
cumstances, can put any other construction upon it than the one 
assigned : 

"This order is communicated that a general plan, perfectly un- 
derstood by all, may be had for receiving attack, if made in strong 
force upon any portion of our present position. Developments may 
cause the Commanding General to assume the offensive from his 
present positions." 

To assume the offensive from his then position was what hap- 
pened to occur. At the time when he issued the circular, the other 
alternative was just as likely to occur, and, at least, even if it were 
not, it was the part of a prudent general to guard against it. It was 
wise for Meade to learn about the ground over which the army was 
passing, and to instruct his officers how to meet a probable crisis, 
but no more forecasting and wise than he always was. 

Early in the day of July 1 the commanding general sent to Sedg- 
wick, commanding the Sixth Corps, at Manchester, on the extreme 
right, the following despatch: 


July 1, 1863. 
Commanding Officer Sixth Corps: 

I am directed by the Commanding General to state that it would 
appear from reports received, that the enemy is moving in heavy 
force on Gettysburg (Ewell from Heidlersburg, and Hill from Cash- 
town Pass), and it is not improbable he will reach that place before 
the command under Major General Reynolds (the First and Eleventh 
Corps), now on the way, can arrive there. Should such be the case, 
and General Reynolds finds himself in the presence of a superior 
force, he is instructed to hold the enemy in check, and fall slowly 
back. If he is able to do this, the line indicated in the circular of 
to-day will be occupied to-night. Should circumstances render it 
necessary for the Commanding General to fight the enemy to-day, 
the troops are posted as follows for the support of Reynolds's com- 
mand, viz.: On his right, at "Two Taverns," the Twelfth Corps; at 
Hanover, the Fifth Corps; the Second Corps is on the road between 
Taneytown and Gettysburg; the Third Corps is at Emmettsburg. 

This information is conveyed to you, that you may have your 
Corps in readiness to move in such direction as may be required at 
a moment's notice. 

Very respectfully, etc., 

S. Williams, 

Asst. Adjt. Gen'l. 

Thus, early in the day, Sedgwick had his warning of the only 
two contingencies probable and approaching, and full information 
of the disposition of the troops in the advance and on the right flank, 
and was therefore duly prepared for either emergency implied in the 
despatch and the circular. At the point of time noted, it was im- 
possible, as has been said, to predict with certainty whether the battle 
that was imminent would take place at Gettysburg or at Pipe Creek. 
All that could be known with certainty was that it would first take 
place on the left of the general advance. Hence Sedgwick, who, as 
has been mentioned, was furthest away on the right, was early fore- 
warned of the situation on the left and advance, in order that he 
might be able to co-operate to the best advantage according to cir- 

It will be remembered that Buford, with two brigades of his divi- 
sion of cavalry, had entered Gettysburg on the afternoon of June 30, 
and that, on his appearance, an advance of the enemy had withdrawn 


toward Cashtown. During the night of the 30th he pushed out scout- 
ing parties in every direction, and from information gathered by 
them he became convinced that the enemy was concentrating near 
him. He therefore proceeded to dispose his troops to the best ad- 
vantage, to make as good a resistance as possible to the enemy's 
advance, hoping to keep him beyond the town, and hold him in check 
until the infantry under Reynolds could come up. 

About 8 a. M., of July 1, Buford's advanced pickets gave warning 
that the enemy was approaching on the Chambersburg Road. 1 Gam- 
ble's brigade was promptly moved forward and formed in line of 
battle across the Chambersburg Road, about a mile beyond the 
Seminary, 2 with skirmishers well out, and with Calef's battery, 
Second U. S. Artillery, disposed along the line. The advance of the 
enemy, Heth's division of A. P. Hill's corps, a heavy column, march- 
ing down the road, now appeared. Skirmishing soon began, and as 
the Confederates came within range, Lieutenant Roder, in charge of 
the right section of Calef's battery, fired the first gun, which opened 
the battle of Gettysburg. Heth then deployed his two leading bri- 
gades, Archer on the right of the Chambersburg Road and Davis 
on the left, and continued his advance. 

Gamble made a stubborn fight, but being outnumbered, was 
forced to fall back to the next ridge, about two hundred yards to the 
rear. Devins's brigade was brought up and deployed on Gamble's 
right, his line extending across the Mummasburg Road, 3 with a line 
of pickets well out to the right and rear, across the Carlisle Road 4 
to Rock Creek, 5 in which direction it was also reported that the 
enemy was advancing. Buford handled his two small brigades ad- 
mirably. Although opposed by a strong force of infantry, which 
was gradually overlapping both of his flanks, he made a sturdy re- 
sistance to the enemy and held him well in check. As soon as the 
action had begun, he had sent word of it to Reynolds, and now 
anxiously awaited succor. 

Reynolds, who had passed the night at the point where the Em- 

1 Chambersburg Pike, not shown on map, extends from Chambersburg to 
Gettysburg through Cashtown. 

2 The seminary, not shown on map, is three-quarters mile west of Gettysburg. 

3 Mummasburg Road, not shown on map, extends from Mummasburg to 

4 Carlisle Road, not shown on map, enters Gettysburg from the north. 

6 Rock Creek, name not shown on map, flows south, three-quarters mile east 
of Gettysburg. 


mettsburg Pike crosses Marsh Creek, set his corps in motion, at 8 
A. M., under his orders of the previous day, on the road to Gettys- 
burg, Wadsworth's division in the advance, with Doubleday's fol- 
lowing, and Robinson's bringing up the rear. He had directed How- 
ard, at Emmettsburg, to follow with the Eleventh Corps. 

When about two miles from Gettysburg, Reynolds heard the guns 
of the cavalry hard at work beyond the town. Here he was met by 
a messenger from Buford, announcing the approach of the enemy in 
force. Instead, therefore, of continuing in the course which he had 
been pursuing toward the town, he deflected the head of his column 
to the left, off the main road, instructed Wadsworth to push on rap- 
idly in a northwesterly direction, toward the firing, despatched word 
back to Howard to urge on the Eleventh Corps, and galloped on in 
advance and joined Buford at the Seminary. 

What general plan Reynolds intended to pursue will never be 
known. This much, however, is known, that he was one of the most 
capable and trustworthy officers in the Army of the Potomac, and 
that he had the full confidence of the commanding general. The 
day that the command of the army was conferred upon Meade, at 
Frederick City, Reynolds visited him, to tender his congratulations, 
and to assure him of his hearty support. They were on that occa- 
sion long in consultation, and the commanding general fully ex- 
plained to him his plans as far as they could be formed. These were 
to push forward the army as rapidly as possible in the direction of 
Harrisburg; in which direction it was then supposed that the enemy 
was moving, to compel him to relinquish his hold upon the Susque- 
hanna, and to force him to battle whenever and wherever found. 
On June 30 was committed to Reynolds the responsible duty of 
commanding the advance of the army. Almost the last communi- 
cation from Meade to Reynolds (which has been elsewhere quoted 
from), beginning with the words, "Your despatch is received. The 
enemy undoubtedly occupy the Cumberland Valley, from Chambers- 
burg, in force; whether the holding of Cashtown Gap is to prevent 
our entrance, or is their advance against us, remains to be seen," 
etc., was timed 11.30 A. M., on June 30. The very last communica- 
tion from Meade to Reynolds, when he had already ordered him to 
advance on Gettysburg, reads as follows: 

July 1, 1863. 
The telegraphic intelligence received from General Couch, with 
the various movements reported by Buford, seem to indicate the 


concentration of the enemy either at Chambersburg, or at a 
point situated somewhere on a line drawn between Chambers- 
burg and York, through Heidlersburg, and to the north of Gettys- 

The Commanding General cannot decide whether it is his best 
policy to move to attack until he learns something more definite of 
the point at which the enemy is concentrating. This he hopes to 
do during the day. Meanwhile, he would like to have your views 
upon the subject, at least so far as concerns your position. 

If the enemy is concentrated to the right of Gettysburg, that 
point would not, at first glance, seem to be a proper strategic point 
of concentration for this army. If the enemy is concentrating in 
front of Gettysburg, or to the left of it, the General is not sufficiently 
informed of the nature of the country to judge of its character either 
for an offensive or defensive position. The number of the enemy 
are estimated at about 92,000 infantry, with 270 pieces of artillery, 
and his cavalry, from six to eight thousand. Our numbers ought to 
equal it, and with the arrival of General French's command, which 
should get up to-morrow, exceed it, if not too much weakened by 
straggling and fatigue. 

The General having assumed command in obedience to orders, 
with the position of affairs leaving no time to learn the condition of 
the army as to morale and proportionate strength, compared with its 
last return, would gladly receive from you any suggestions as to the 
points laid down in this note. He feels that you know more of the 
condition of the troops in your vicinity, and the country, than he 

General Humphreys, who is at Emmettsburg with the Third Corps, 
the General considers an excellent adviser as to the nature of the 
country for defensive or offensive operations. If near enough to call 
him to consultation with you, please do so, without interference with 
the responsibilities that devolve upon you both. You have all the 
information which the General has received, and the General would 
like to have your views. 

The movement of your Corps to Gettysburg was ordered before 
the positive knowledge of the enemy's withdrawal from Harrisburg 
and concentration was received. 

What we know of Reynolds, subsequently to this time, is very 
little, as he fell among the first on the field of battle; but that little 
is conclusive as to his having at once realized the military situation 


and taken every means to meet it. He had had the fullest under- 
standing with the commanding general, and possessed the definite 
information as to his intentions conveyed in the despatch just quoted. 
Even if he had received the Pipe Creek circular, that would not have 
embarrassed him or any other good general, for he would have seen 
that its instructions were conformable with the military situation as 
he found it. As the officer in command of the advance, put there for 
the express purpose of his being able to act with judgment in every 
contingency covered by the expressed intentions of his superior, he 
acted, when the special case did arise, just as the commanding gen- 
eral had contemplated that he would act. Meade, let it be remem- 
bered, had said in his despatch: "The commanding general cannot 
decide whether it is his best policy to move to attack until he learns 
something more definite of the point at which the enemy is concen- 
trating. This he hopes to do during the day." The eyes, the ears, 
and the brain which Meade, in default of his being able to be omni- 
present, had selected for the advance, soon obtained that definite 
knowledge of which he had spoken, requisite, as he had said, to en- 
able him with advantage to move to attack. In conformity with 
his instructions, perception and action were necessarily simulta- 
neous on the part of Reynolds, when he suddenly acquired knowl- 
edge of the imminence of the concentration of the enemy at 

During the morning the Second Corps, under Hancock, had been 
marching from Uniontown, and about eleven o'clock halted outside 
of Taney town and bivouacked. Hancock rode over to the com- 
manding general's head-quarters and reported to him. In a long and 
earnest conference between them, Meade fully explained his views 
and plans, and expressed his intentions to fight a battle in front, if 
practicable, and if not there, wherever practicable. Hancock then 
returned to his command. 

About half-past eleven o'clock Meade received the first positive 
intelligence of the movement of the enemy on Gettysburg, and of the 
engagement of his advance at that place. It was brought to him 
by an aide-de-camp of Reynolds's, Captain Stephen M. Weed, who 
had left his gallant chief at ten o'clock, at the moment when Rey- 
nolds and Buford had just met outside of Gettysburg, and who had 
ridden hard with his message. Captain Weed reported that General 
Reynolds had said to him, "Ride at your utmost speed to General 
Meade. Tell him the enemy are advancing in strong force, and that 


I fear they will get to the heights beyond the town before I can. I 
will fight them inch by inch, and if driven into the town, I will bar- 
ricade the streets and hold them back as long as possible. Don't 
spare your horse — never mind if you kill him." 

General Meade seemed disturbed at first at this news, lest he 
should lose the position referred to at Gettysburg. At his request 
the officer repeated the message, when he seemed reassured, and 
said: "Good! that is just like Reynolds; he will hold on to the 
bitter end." 

It must have been shortly after this, judging by the distance, and 
by the time at which the despatch was written, that Meade received 
a message from Buford. It was as follows: 

To General Meade: 

Gettysburg, July 1, 10.10 a. m. 

The enemy's force (A. P. Hill's) are advancing on me at this point 
and driving my pickets and skirmishers wry rapidly. There is also 
a large force at Heidlersburg, that is driving my pickets at that point 
from that direction. General Reynolds is advancing, and is within 
three miles of this point, with his leading division. I am positive 
that the whole of A. P. Hill's force is advancing. 

John Buford, 

Brig. Gen, 

About one o'clock news was brought to the commanding general 
of the engagement and of the death of Reynolds at Gettysburg. 
Upon receipt of the intelligence of this not only great, but, at the 
present juncture, doubly serious loss to the army, in the death of 
Reynolds, Meade, of course, realized at once the urgency of despatch- 
ing to the front some one who might, through familiarity with his 
own views and intentions, be able to replace him. Hancock, gallant 
soldier as he was, and possessing also, as he did, the full confidence of 
Meade in his ability, was also, through the late, long, and earnest con- 
ference, and through his being still just at hand, the officer in whom 
all requirements met to replace the fallen commander. Accordingly, 
Meade at once directed Hancock to proceed to Gettysburg, to take 
command of the troops there, and to advise him as to the exact situa- 
tion of affairs, and as to the practicability of fighting a battle there. 
His written instructions to Hancock were these: 


Headquarters Army of the Potomac, July 1, 1863 — 1.10 p. m. 
Commanding Officer, Second Corps: 

The Major General Commanding has just been informed that 
General Reynolds has been killed or badly wounded. He directs 
that you turn over the command of your corps to General Gibbon; 
that you proceed to the front, and by virtue of this order, in case of 
the truth of General Reynolds's death, you assume command of the 
corps there assembled, viz., the Eleventh, First, and Third, at Em- 
mettsburg. If you think the ground and position there a better one 
to fight a battle under existing circumstances, you will so advise the 
General, and he will order all the troops up. You know the General's 
views, and General Warren, who is fully aware of them, has gone out 
to see General Reynolds. 

Later. 1.15 p. m. 
Reynolds has possession of Gettysburg, and the enemy are re- 
ported falling back from the front of Gettysburg. Hold your column 
ready to move. 

Very respectfully, etc., 
Official: Daniel Btjtterfield, 

S. Williams, Maj. Gen'L, Chief of Staff. 

A. A. Gen'L 

Hancock at once turned over the command of the Second Corps 
to Gibbon, commander of its Second Division, and promptly pro- 
ceeded to Gettysburg; and General Meade soon ordered Gibbon to 
move the corps for that place. 

Hancock, as was seen in his written instructions, had been ordered 
to report, upon his arrival at Gettysburg, as to the character of the 
ground there, with reference to its availability for fighting a battle, 
and had been informed that, if his report were favorable, the com- 
manding general would move the whole army forward. But, before 
hearing from him, Meade, owing to information received from officers 
returning from the front, had become satisfied that the enemy was 
advancing in sufficient force to prove that Lee was concentrating his 
whole army at Gettysburg. Therefore, without awaiting the report 
of Hancock, he began to move the troops to the front. 1 

At 4.30 p. m., General Meade sent a despatch to Sedgwick, as 

1 See map No. 10, position 2.30 p. m., July 1. 


July 1, 1863, 4.30 p. m. 

Commanding Officer, Sixth Corps: 

The Major General Commanding directs that you move your 
command up to Taneytown to-night, your trains, except ambulances 
and ammunition, to Westminster and south of the railroad, as ordered. 
I regret to inform you that Maj. Gen'l. Reynolds was killed at Gettys- 
burg this morning. You will inform Gen'l . Sykes of your movement, 
and the cavalry. 

Very respectfully, etc., 
Official: Daniel Butterfield, 

S. Williams, Maj. Gen'l, Chief of Staff. 

A. A. Gen'l 

About the same time that the commanding general sent the pre- 
ceding order to Sedgwick, he also sent orders to the Fifth Corps, and 
to the Twelfth Corps, to move to Gettysburg. Six batteries of the 
Reserve Artillery were also ordered to Gettysburg. 

About four o'clock, Hancock sent from Gettysburg a verbal mes- 
sage by one of his aides, Major Mitchell, which probably reached the 
commanding general shortly after six o'clock, explaining the situa- 
tion of affairs and stating that "he would hold the ground until 
dark"; meaning by this, as Hancock afterward explained, in his testi- 
mony before the congressional committee on the conduct of the 
war, to allow the commanding general time to decide the question 
of maintaining the position. At 5.25 p. m., Hancock sent the follow- 
ing written despatch by his aide; Captain Parker: 

July 1, 5.25. 

When I arrived here an hour since, I found that our troops had 
given up the front of Gettysburg and the town. We have now taken 
up a position in the cemetery, which cannot well be taken; it is a 
position, however, easily turned. Slocum is now coming on the 
ground, and is taking position on the right, which will protect the 
right. But we have as yet no troops on the left, the Third Corps 
not having yet reported; but I suppose that it is marching up. If 
so, his (Sickles's) flank march will in a degree protect our left flank. 
In the meantime Gibbon had better march on so as to take position 
on our right or left, to our rear, as may be necessary, in some com- 
manding position. Gen. G. will see this despatch. The battle is 


quiet now. I think we will be all right until night. I have sent all 
the trains back. When night comes it can be told better what had 
best be done. I think we can retire; if not, we can fight here, as 
the ground appears not unfavorable with good troops. I will com- 
municate in a few moments with General Slocum, and transfer the 
command to him. 

Howard says that Doubleday's command gave way. 
Your obedient servant, 

Winfield S. Hancock, 

Maj. Gen'L, Cont'd' g. Corps. 
General Warren is here. 

At 6 P. M., probably before even Hancock's 4 p. m. verbal message 
had had time to reach head-quarters at Taneytown, and certainly be- 
fore Hancock's 5.25 p. m. written despatch had had time to reach 
there, for Taneytown is thirteen miles from Gettysburg, the com- 
manding general had sent to Hancock the following despatch: 

July 1, 1863, 6 p. m. 

Maj. Gen'l. Hancock, and copy to 
Maj. Gen'l. Doubled ay: 

If General Slocum is in the field, and I hope he is, of course he takes 
command; say to him I thought it prudent to leave a division of the 
Third Corps at Emmettsburg, to hold in check any force attempting 
to come through there. It can be ordered up to-night, if required. 
It seems to me that we have so concentrated, that a battle at Gettys- 
burg is now forced on us, and that if we can get up our people and 
attack with our whole force, to-morrow, we ought to defeat the force 
the enemy has. Six batteries of the Reserve Artillery have been 
sent up and more will be sent up to-morrow. 

Very respectfully, etc., 

Geo. G. Meade, 
Major General, Commanding. 

At 7 P. M., the commanding general sent further orders to the 
Fifth Corps, to urge it forward. At 7.30 p. m., he sent orders to the 
Sixth Corps, and to the two brigades of the Third Corps, left at 
Emmettsburg, to urge the forward movement to Gettysburg. Those 
to Sedgwick, of the Sixth Corps, were as follows: 


Headquarters Army op the Potomac, 

Taneytown, July 1, 1863, 7.30 p. m. 

Commanding Officer, Sixth Corps: 

The Major General Commanding directs me to say that a general 
battle seems to be impending to-morrow at Gettysburg. That it is 
of the utmost importance that your command should be up. He 
directs that you stop all trains, or turn them out of the road, that 
impede your progress. Your march will have to be a forced one, to 
reach the scene of action, where we shall be largely outnumbered 
without your presence. If any shorter road presents itself without 
difficulty in getting up, you will use your discretion in taking it, and 
report the facts to these headquarters. General Sykes has been or- 
dered up from Hanover to Gettysburg, and General Slocum from 
Littlestown, and General Hancock's Corps from here. The whole 
army is there (Gettysburg), or under way for that point. The Gen- 
eral desires you to report here in person, without delay, the moment 
you receive this; he is waiting to see you before going to the front. 
The trains will all go to Westminster and Union Bridge, as ordered. 

Very respectfully, etc., 
Official: Dan'l. Butterfield, 

S. Williams, Maj. Gen'L, Chief of Staff. 

A. A. G. 

At the same time the commanding general sent orders to the 
provost marshal and others to collect all stragglers and send them 
to the front. The trains were all sent back to Westminster, and 
guarded by the engineer battalion and other infantry of the army. 

It had been for some hours, as evidenced by the preceding orders 
and dispositions, a fixed fact in the mind of the commanding general 
that the battle would take place at Gettysburg, so, at 6 p. M., he de- 
spatched a messenger to Frederick City, to send the following tele- 
gram to General Halleck, in Washington, apprising him of the definite 
conclusion that had been reached: 

July 1, 1863, 6 p. m. 
The First and Eleventh Corps have been engaged all day in front 
of Gettysburg. The Twelfth, Third and Fifth have been moving 
up, and all I hope, by this time on the field. This leaves only the 
Sixth, which will move up to-night. General Reynolds was killed 
this morning, early in the action. I immediately sent up General 


Hancock to assume command. A. P. Hill and Ewell are certainly 
concentrating. Longstreet's whereabouts, I do not know. If he is 
not up to-morrow, I hope, with the force I have concentrated, to 
defeat Hill and Ewell; at any rate, I see no other course than to 
hazard a general battle. Circumstances during the night may alter 
this decision, of which I will try to advise you. 

I have telegraphed Couch that if he can threaten EwelFs rear 
from Harrisburg, without endangering himself, to do so. 

George G. Meade, 

Major General. 

Sedgwick, in compliance with Meade's order, started soon after 
7 P. M. for Taneytown, and had marched in that direction beyond 
the Baltimore Pike, 1 which here is the direct road to Gettysburg, 
when he was met by an aide, despatched to him by the commanding 
general, who had been awaiting his arrival at Taneytown, but who, 
having concluded to wait no longer, had sent this officer to instruct 
him not to pass through Taneytown, but to take the more direct 
road to Gettysburg by the way of Littlestown. Turning bridle, 
Sedgwick rejoined the head of his column, and after considerable dif- 
ficulty and delay, owing to the narrowness of the road upon which it 
was then moving, countermarched it, regained the Baltimore Pike, 
and started on the direct road to Gettysburg through Littlestown. 

Just as, shortly before ten o'clock, Meade was about starting for 
the front Hancock arrived and reported to him the condition of af- 
fairs up to the time of his leaving Gettysburg. Guided by Captain 
W. H. Paine, of the engineer staff, he then started, and notwith- 
standing that the night was dark and the road blocked by troops and 
artillery moving to the front, in fifty-seven minutes by the watch 
after leaving Taneytown the general reached the head-quarters of 
the Second Corps, a distance of between eight and nine miles. He 
here stopped for about fifteen minutes for consultation with Gen- 
eral Gibbon, and gave him orders to push forward as soon as it was 
light. Resuming his route, it was about a quarter of twelve o'clock 
when he rode into the cemetery, about three and a half miles beyond 
where he had left Gibbon. 

If the reader will place the point of a pair of dividers on the town 
of Gettysburg, as laid down on the map, as a centre, and with the 
distance from Gettysburg to Chambersburg, twenty-four miles, for 

1 Not shown on map. 


radius, describe a circle, he will find that Carlisle, York, and Hagers- 
town lie only a short distance outside of, and about the same dis- 
tance from, the circumference of the circle, and that Manchester and 
Westminster, seven and a half miles distant from each other, lie just 
inside, and each about two miles from, the circumference. 

From this simple consideration, the relations to each other of the 
two contending armies, in their final positions and movements on 
Gettysburg, are clearly perceived. Ewell's dispersed corps was re- 
called, by Lee's orders, from the circumference of the circle toward 
the centre, Gettysburg. From Chambersburg, a point on the circum- 
ference itself, and the head-quarters of Lee, A. P. Hill's corps and 
Longstreet's corps advanced toward that centre. 

Critically examining the map, we find that the line of Lee's main 
direction in the final advance from Chambersburg to Gettysburg, 
and the line from Manchester to Emmettsburg, which represented 
the extreme right and left of Meade's advance, are parallel, although 
not opposite to each other, the first being to the south of east and 
the other necessarily to the north of west. The significance of these 
two advancing positions is this: Lee, still protected on his right 
flank by the line of the South Mountain, is issuing through them 
by Cashtown Pass, if we except Ewell's corps, rejoining him to the 
east of Cashtown Pass. Meade's necessity is to hold on, longer than 
anywhere else, with a force at Emmettsburg, because he cannot be 
sure that Lee's appearance at Cashtown is not a feint, and that, 
masked by the line of mountains, Lee may not issue with his main 
force on the left flank of the Army of the Potomac, at Emmettsburg. 
Meade has his right wing extended to Manchester, because Early 
has been over on his right as far as York. If Lee's movement on 
Cashtown had been a feint, and his objective point, with A. P. Hill's 
and Longstreet's corps, while Ewell was joining them, had been 
Emmettsburg, then the vicinity of Emmettsburg, or more probably 
the line of Pipe Creek, would have been the battle-ground, and in 
that event, certainly the first part of the great contest would have 
taken place at Emmettsburg. 

Westminster, which was noted in connection with the circle drawn 
from Gettysburg as a centre, is, as remarked, just within the circum- 
ference. It was the place upon which the trains of the army were 
chiefly directed when the final advance had been ordered. Hagers- 
town, on the enemy's side of the mountains, and just beyond the cir- 
cumference of the circle, is not far from Williamsport, on the Potomac, 


his base of supplies. Meade's head-quarters, at Taneytown, had lain 
between Manchester and Emmettsburg, a little south of a line drawn 
between those two points, and a little nearer to Emmettsburg than 
to Manchester. 

The reader has now been afforded, first, a view of the general 
field of operations of the campaign; and, second, a view of the smaller 
field of operations just before the final collision between the two ar- 
mies took place. 1 It only remains that he shall become acquainted 
with the actual battle-ground of Gettysburg, and this will be de- 
scribed in connection with the operations there. 

*See Map No. 11, Lines of March from the Rappahannock to Gettysburg. 



The scene now naturally shifts back to the battle-field at Gettys- 
burg, where Reynolds, just arrived, had immediately despatched an 
aide-de-camp to the commanding general with the urgent message 
which has been already given. 

One thing is obvious from the consideration of an incidental men- 
tion in this message: that Reynolds had seen at a glance that the 
position finally obtained by the Federal army was that which ought 
to be secured. And the inference, moreover, is unavoidable, that he 
thought dispositions on the field should be made with reference to 
safe retirement to the heights of Cemetery Hill and Ridge. In the 
situation, however, that was to be instantaneously met, as he reached 
the field, the only thing to be done was to put in the arriving troops 
wherever they could be placed, in order to stem the tide of the ad- 
vancing Confederates. 

For details of the battle-ground of the three following days the 
reader must of course resort to the map. 1 But a good general idea 
of the ground can be obtained by regarding, as before, the town of 
Gettysburg as a centre, and forming one's notions of directions and 
accidents of surface by regarding them as seen from that centre. 
Facing the north, thence, we may define the general shape of the 
battle-ground as rudely representing a parallelogram, four and a half 
miles long by two and a half wide, the long sides of it lying north and 
south, the short sides east and west, the spectator in the town of 
Gettysburg occupying the middle of it, taking it from east to west, 
and about one-fourth of its length from the north, taking it from 
north to south. Two creeks, Rock Creek and Willoughby Run, flow, 
as to their general direction, north and south along the east and west 
sides of this parallelogram. Their direction may be more nearly 
particularized by saying that Rock Creek, taken due east of the centre 
of Gettysburg, is three-quarters of a mile distant, and that Wil- 
loughby Run, taken due west of the centre of Gettysburg, is a mile 

!See Map No. 12, The Battle-field. 


and a quarter distant, making the distance between them at Gettys- 
burg two miles; and that, from these points, the creeks, in flowing 
the three miles and a half to the end of the battle-field, at the south 
diverge from this width of two miles apart at the north to a width 
apart of three miles and a half. 

Now, again assuming the centre of Gettysburg as the point from 
which to view in imagination the movements of the contending armies, 
through the convergence of roads at the town, we find that, coming 
from Cashtown, Lee (A. P. Hill's and Longstreet's corps) marched 
on Gettysburg by the Chambersburg Pike, southeast; and that 
Ewell and Early, coming from Carlisle and York to reinforce Lee, 
marched on the town by the Carlisle Road, due south, and by the 
Harrisburg Road, south of southwest. 

Meade's troops advanced toward the town by the Emmettsburg 
Pike, north of northeast; by the Taneytown Road, west of north; 
by the Baltimore Pike, northwest; and by the Hanover Road, west 
of northwest. 

It now only remains to add that on the line of a semicircle, rudely 
described, north of Gettysburg from the centre of Gettysburg, taking 
in the slopes rising from Rock Creek and Willoughby Run and across 
the Carlisle Road, the battle of the first day was waged. The position 
of the Army of the Potomac where the battle was finally delivered 
(to which, of course, the Confederate position was generally conform- 
able), was along the high ground running south of southwest from 
Gettysburg for three miles, ending with Big and Little Round Tops; 
a line making, inclusive of a sharp turn to the eastward of about 
a mile in length at the cemetery, and inclusive also of the flexures 
in the hills, a position of over four miles in length for the Federal line 
of battle. Beyond this reference the reader could glean nothing from 
a general description of the ground, and must refer for details to the 
map, in conjunction with a study of the separate movements in battle. 

Wadsworth's division, Cutler's brigade leading, left the Em- 
mettsburg Road about two miles from Gettysburg, and double- 
quicking across the fields in a northwesterly direction, reached 
Seminary Ridge, relieving Buford's tired troopers, who by hard fight- 
ing had, alone, thus far successfully disputed the enemy's advance. 
Three regiments of Cutler's brigade were rapidly put in line, on the 
right of the Chambersburg Road, across the old railroad cut. 2 The 

1 Shown on map as Harrisburg Road. 

2 See Map No. 13, July 1, 10 a. m. 


other two regiments of the brigade were placed by Reynolds on the 
left of the Chambersburg Road, in support of Hall's Second Maine 
Battery. Cutler at once became hotly engaged. 

It was now ten o'clock. Meredith's brigade was formed as it 
came up, on the left of the Chambersburg Road, and under Reynolds's 
immediate direction moved forward into a strip of woods on the ridge 
parallel to and in front of Seminary Ridge through which the enemy 
was advancing, charged, and drove him back across Willoughby Run. 
Two of Meredith's regiments (the Nineteenth Indiana and the 
Twenty-fourth Michigan) were thrown across the run, enveloping 
Archer's brigade of A. P. Hill's corps. Archer and the greater part 
of his brigade were captured by this well-executed movement. 

At the moment of Meredith's advance, Reynolds, who was direct- 
ing the movement, was killed, shot through the head. Never, per- 
haps, has a general fallen in battle at a more momentous time; never, 
perhaps, at such a crisis, has a command passed from an extraordi- 
nary soldier to one so inferior to him. Doubleday, to whom that com- 
mand fell by seniority, was brave, and capable enough for ordinary 
emergencies; but this emergency was extraordinary, and the soldier 
to whom he succeeded was without a peer in the army. He was of 
the stuff of which marshals of France were made when every soldier 
carried the baton in his knapsack. Still, it is no disparagement of the 
other that the same cannot be said of him. 

Doubleday, who had appeared upon the field in advance of his 
division before Reynolds was killed, and had received orders from 
Reynolds as to what portion of it he should direct, was now sepa- 
rated from Reynolds, and consequently was not for some time aware 
of the death of his chief, and that he had thus become the ranking 
officer on the field. 

Cutler's three regiments, on the right of the road, were opposed 
by the whole of Davis's brigade. Finding themselves, after a short 
but sharp fight, outnumbered and outflanked, they were ordered to 
retire. They at first gradually fell back to Seminary Ridge, and then 
still further to the rear. The retiring of this brigade left Hall's bat- 
tery, posted to its front and left, and already heavily engaged in a 
very exposed position, and the right of Meredith's brigade as well, 
of which opportunities Davis took immediate advantage. Freed 
now from opposition on his front, he turned his attention to this bat- 
tery, and after subjecting it to a very severe fire, killing many men 
and horses, rushed forward to capture it. Hall, now endeavoring to 


retire and save it, accomplished his purpose, except in the case of 
one piece, of which all the horses were killed and many of the men 
killed and wounded. 

Just at this critical moment the Sixth Wisconsin, of Meredith's 
brigade, which had, up to this time, been in reserve, appeared on the 
scene, and being joined by the Ninety-fifth New York and the Four- 
teenth Brooklyn, two of the regiments which had acted as the sup- 
port to the battery, they together made a gallant charge, recovered 
Hall's gun, and drove the advancing enemy across and into the rail- 
road cut, capturing some three hundred men belonging to Missis- 
sippi regiments of Davis's brigade. This brilliant dash maintained 
that portion of the field. 

In the meantime Meredith's brigade had been recalled to the 
hither side of the run and reformed in line. Cutler's brigade was 
now ordered forward with those of his regiments which had fallen 
back, and his brigade, reunited, was reformed, occupying to the right 
of the road the ground where the fight had begun. Stewart's First 
United States Artillery was also brought up and posted on Cutler's 

About eleven o'clock Doubleday's division came upon the field 
and at once took position, Stone's brigade in the interval between 
Cutler and Meredith, and Biddle's brigade, with Cooper's First 
Pennsylvania Battery, on the left of Meredith, Gamble's brigade of 
cavalry being deployed on Biddle's left. Robinson's division, fol- 
lowing Doubleday's, was placed in reserve near the seminary. 

The attack of Archer and Davis had signally failed. Archer, as 
has been said, had been captured, with many of his men, and the 
brigade driven back. Davis's brigade had suffered so severely, had 
been so badly cut up and scattered, that it could not be again brought 
into action until late in the day. 

Heth, bringing up the brigades of Pettigrew and Brockenborough, 
with the remnants of Archer's brigade, formed a new line on his 
right of the Chambersburg Road, and awaited further orders. There 
was now a lull in the action until after one o'clock. 1 

It was verging toward one o'clock when the head of the column 
of the Eleventh Corps reached Gettysburg, Schurz's division, then 
commanded by Schimmelfennig, leading. This division was ad- 
vanced through the town into the open country beyond, to the north, 
with orders to form line of battle on the right of the First Corps. 

x See Map No. 14, July 1, 11 a. m. 


Howard, with the Eleventh Corps, had left the vicinity of Em- 
mettsburg about 8.30 a. m., under orders from Reynolds to march 
to Gettysburg. Barlow's division of the corps followed the route 
of the First Corps, while the divisions of Schurz and Von Steinwehr 
took a road which would bring them into Gettysburg by the Taney- 
town Road. After seeing his column started, Howard rode ahead to 
Gettysburg. On his way he received from Reynolds news of the 
engagement and orders to hasten forward with the corps. Sending 
back these orders to the advancing divisions of the corps, Howard 
again hastened forward, arriving at Gettysburg at about eleven 
o'clock. Shortly after his arrival he was notified of the death of 
Reynolds, and became aware that he was the senior officer on the field. 

During the lull in the conflict that had taken place between 
eleven and one o'clock General A. P. Hill, with Pender's division, 
had arrived by the Chambersburg Road. Having been apprised of 
the approach of Ewell from the north, he ordered Heth to advance 
at once and attack with his whole line, notifying him that Pender 
would support him. 

Ewell, with Rodes's division, had passed the night of June 30 at 
Heidlersburg, and had moved on the morning of July 1, under orders 
to march toward Cashtown. Before reaching Middletown, however, 
he had received word from A. P. Hill, that he was moving toward 
Gettysburg. Ewell, therefore, turned the head of Rodes's column 
for that place by the way of the Middletown Road, and sent word 
to Early to advance by the Heidlersburg Road. 1 

Upon arriving near the field Rodes found that, by keeping along 
the ridge, which is here a prolongation of Seminary Ridge, he could 
strike in flank the force opposed to Hill. Accordingly, he formed his 
line facing due south, with Iverson's brigade on the right, O'Neill's 
in the centre, and Doles's on the left, with Daniels and Ramseur in 
reserve. He continued along with this formation until he arrived 
at Oak Hill, a commanding point from which he had a full view of the 
First Corps's line. Rodes then advanced his batteries and opened 
fire on Cutler's troops. Having his own troops in position, and deem- 
ing the opportunity favorable, he ordered Iverson and O'Neill to ad- 
vance. To meet this advance Cutler moved further to the right, 
and swinging back his right, soon became hotly engaged. As Rodes 
continued to press and overlap him, Baxter's brigade, of Robinson's 
division, Robinson himself accompanying it, was hastened over from 

1 Shown on map as Harrisburg Road. 


the seminary to his assistance and formed on his right, extending to 
the Mummasburg Road. 

As the afternoon passed, and Rodes's efforts to break the Federal 
line increased, and the fighting became in consequence more and 
more desperate, Paul's brigade was also brought up and disposed 
partly in support of Baxter, and partly on his right. 

Now was the time, when the enemy was appearing on Oak Hill, 
that the Eleventh Corps came upon the immediate field, Schurz, di- 
rected by Howard to assume command of the corps, moving his own 
division, under Schimmelfennig, to the right of the First Corps. 
Before, however, Schurz had had time to occupy Oak Hill, on his 
left and front, Rodes's division had seized it and was advancing. 
Schimmelfennig therefore deployed his division in the open fields, 
facing it north, to the right of the First Corps. His line, however, 
did not extend far enough to connect with the right of that corps, 
quite a wide interval intervening between the two bodies of troops. 
On his left was placed Dilger's First Ohio Battery, and a little later 
that was reinforced by the addition of Wheeler's Thirteenth New 
York Independent Battery, brought up on the right of Dilger. Bar- 
low's division, which had arrived by the Emmettsburg Pike, marched 
through the town of Gettysburg, and took position on the right of 
Schimmelfennig, Von Gilsa's small brigade, with Battery G of the 
Fourth United States Artillery, being advanced to a small wooded 
eminence near Rock Creek, Ames's brigade remaining in reserve. 
Devins's cavalry, up to this time disputing the advance of Rodes, 
and now relieved by the advance of the Eleventh Corps, fell back 
to the right of the York Road, covering that approach. 

Von Steinwehr's division, of the Eleventh Corps, remains to be 
accounted for. As it had arrived to the southward of Gettysburg, 
it had, by direction of General Howard, been turned off to the right 
and stationed, with Wiedrich's New York battery, on the heights 
in front of the cemetery, just south of the town. 

To return now to the First Corps, on the left of the line: Heth, 
on receiving the order from Hill to attack, advanced his whole line, 
Brockenborough on the left, Pettigrew in the centre, and Archer on 
the right. Archer was soon compelled to change front to the right, 
on account of the active demonstrations of Gamble's troopers, and 
Brockenborough encountered such a determined resistance from Stone 
and Meredith that he made no headway. But Pettigrew, although 
not without hard fighting and suffering heavy loss, was more sue- 


cessful. Biddle's line opposed his; but, although far outnumbered 
and greatly outflanked on the left, Biddle maintained his position 
with spirit for a long time, under a severe front and flank fire, when 
he was compelled to retire, a movement which he executed slowly, 
to a partial cover close to the seminary. In this advance Heth 
himself was wounded. 

On the right of the First Corps the fighting had been equally des- 
perate with that on the left. O'Neill's brigade had, upon receiving 
the order to assault, advanced in such irregular formation as to make 
his attack so ineffective that he was almost immediately hurled back 
and attacked in turn by Robinson, his troops scattered, and many 
prisoners taken. 

About this time Cutler's brigade, being entirely out of ammuni- 
tion, and the men exhausted by the day's encounters, was withdrawn 
from the field. 

Iverson, on O'Neill's right, had, in moving forward, swung around 
his right until he faced in a southeasterly direction. Baxter, being 
now relieved on his front by the repulse of O'Neill, which had uncov- 
ered Iverson's left, promptly changed front and furiously assaulted 
Iverson, driving him back with fearful slaughter. Iverson's change 
of direction had uncovered the front of Daniels, who was following 
on his right and rear. In consequence Daniels moved directly for- 
ward until he reached the railroad cut. There Stone, who had re- 
fused his right, so that it was then facing north, obstinately resisted 
Daniels. Daniels managed to get possession of the railroad cut, but 
was unable to gain any further advantage. Baxter's brigade was 
now withdrawn, and for a time remained on the eastern slope of 
Seminary Ridge, north of the Chambersburg Road in support of 
Stewart's battery. Ramseur now advanced and, with the remnants 
of Iverson's and O'Neill's brigades, prepared to attack the right 
flank of the First Corps. 

The movements of Schimmelfennig had caused Rodes to extend 
Doles's brigade further to the left, in order to protect that flank, 
and also to connect with Early's division, coming on the field by 
the Heidlersburg Road. 1 Early arrived at 2.30 p. m. and formed 
line of battle on some wooded hills across Rock Creek; Hays's bri- 
gade in the centre, Gordon's on the right, and Avery's on the left, 
with Smith in reserve. The artillery of this division, placed in 
position south of the Harrisburg Road, opened fire and enfiladed 

1 Shown on map as Harrisburg Road. 


Barlow's line, Ames was brought up and placed on the left of 
Von Gilsa. 

At 1 p. M. Howard had sent a despatch to Sickles, at Emmetts- 
burg, urging him to come up. A little later he had sent to Slocum 
a message, stating how hard they were pressed, and calling for assist- 
ance. At 2 p. M., just before this period of the fight that we have 
reached, he reported to the commanding general: 1 

Headquarters Eleventh Corps, July 1, 2 p. m. 

Gen. Meade: 

The First Corps came in position in front of town — two divisions 
of the Eleventh Corps on the right of the town, one division, Eleventh 
Corps in reserve. 

Enemy reported to be advancing from York (EwelPs corps) — the 
First and Eleventh Corps were engaged with Hill's forces. 
Have ordered General Sickles to push forward. 

O. O. Howard, 

As Doles was attacking Schimmelfennig in front, Gordon's bri- 
gade advanced across Rock Creek, and, in joining Doles, attacked 
Barlow's right. Von Gilsa's brigade, being hard pressed, after a 
brief resistance fell back in great disorder, the men pouring through 
Ames's regiment, and causing much confusion. Barlow was des- 
perately wounded, and his division fell back, leaving him a prisoner 
in the hands of the enemy. 

Doles was equally successful with Schimmelfennig. The whole 
line of the Eleventh Corps gave way. There was an attempt to 
rally, some four or five hundred yards to the rear, near the county 
almshouse, 2 but Hays and Hoke, having crossed Rock Creek, south 
of the Harrisburg Road, took the Federals in flank, and they, being 
pressed in front by Gordon and Doles, made but a brief stand, and 
continued to retreat pell-mell to the town. 

Dilger's, Wheeler's, and Wilkeson's batteries had rendered ex- 
cellent service throughout the engagement. Lieutenant Wilkeson 
had been mortally wounded early in the day. When the infantry 
fell back, the three batteries were by skilful handling safely retired, 
fighting their guns in retreat to Cemetery Hill, one of Wheeler's guns, 
only on account of its being disabled, being left on the field. 

1 See Map No. 15, July 1, 2.30 p. m., No. 2. 
2 Not shown on map. 


It was now half-past three o'clock. Before the retreat Howard 
had sent word to Schurz to fall back, but this order was not received 
until the corps was in full retreat. At the same time that Howard 
had sent this order he had advanced as support Coster's brigade, of 
Von Steinwehr's division. This brigade, with Heckman's Ohio bat- 
tery, was advanced just northeast of the town, between the Harris- 
burg Road and the Hanover Railroad. They were able, however, 
to retard the enemy's advance only sufficiently to enable the shat- 
tered remains of the rest of the Eleventh Corps to take refuge behind 
them, when they, in turn, to avoid being enveloped, were compelled 
to retire, Heckman losing two of his guns. 

During this onslaught on the Eleventh Corps, which had just 
terminated so disastrously, the First Corps had maintained its posi- 
tion against the most vigorous attacks, from Heth in front and from 
Rodes on the right. Robinson, after a magnificent defence, now, on 
account of his right being uncovered by the rout of the Eleventh 
Corps, and, as well, furiously attacked on front and left, received 
orders to withdraw. 

The time of day was half-past three in the afternoon. Heth's 
division, now out of ammunition, and thoroughly exhausted by al- 
most continuous fighting since ten o'clock in the morning, was re- 
lieved by Pender's division. Pender promptly advanced his three 
brigades in line, Lane's on the right, Perrin's in the centre, and 
Scales' s on the left, all south of the Chambersburg Road, the other 
brigade of this division, Thomas's, being held in reserve as a sup- 
port to the artillery. Lane had not advanced far before he was 
compelled to concentrate his attention on Gamble's cavalry brigade, 
which, well extended to the left, thus threatened the right flank of 
the advancing line. Scales, on the left, passing Brockenborough's 
troops, came into action by vigorously attacking Stone and Meredith. 

By this time Doubleday had withdrawn his line to the seminary, 
collecting the batteries of the corps, to make there the last stand 
under which to cover the withdrawal of the rest of the First 
Corps from the field. Stone and Meredith, in conjunction with the 
batteries, opened such a murderous fire upon Scales that his brigade 
was almost annihilated and he himself wounded. Of Scales's bri- 
gade, but five hundred men and one field officer were left. 

Perrin's brigade, advancing beyond Pettigrew, attacked Biddle, 
who, after a gallant resistance, was compelled to relinquish his 


The check to Scales had, however, enabled all the batteries to re- 
tire. But Perrin still continuing to press on, the order to abandon 
Seminary Hill was given. Scales, although badly wounded, col- 
lected the fragments of his brigade, and joining Perrin's, still pressed 
on, when the Federal line, now attacked in front and on both flanks, 
fell back toward Gettysburg. Perrin continued to pursue to the 
town, where he halted, having captured one gun, belonging to Reyn- 
olds's New York battery. 

Lane, still beset by Gamble, had been unable to take any part in 
this last attack, and had to content himself with slowly pushing 
Gamble back to the cover of the guns on Cemetery Hill. Gamble 
was here joined by Devins, whom Buford had moved over from the 
right of the town. 

General Paul,, commanding the First Brigade of Robinson's di- 
vision of the First Corps, had been badly wounded in one of the 
attacks on the right of the First Corps. He was succeeded by Colonel 
Leonard, of the Thirteenth Massachusetts, and he by Colonel Root, 
of the Ninety-fourth New York, ancThe again, by the time the bri- 
gade had reached Cemetery Hill, by Colonel Coulter, of the Eleventh 
Pennsylvania, belonging to the Second Brigade of the division; all 
but Colonel Coulter being wounded. Similarly, Colonel Stone, of 
the Second Brigade, Third Division, had been wounded early in the 
fight, and was succeeded by Colonel Wister, of the One Hundred and 
Fiftieth Pennsylvania, who was wounded very shortly afterward, and 
succeeded by Colonel Dana, of the One Hundred and Forty-third 
Pennsylvania Regiment. 

Pender's division was collected and halted outside of the town, 
and between four and Hve o'clock Anderson's division, of A. P. Hill's 
corps, came up and bivouacked about a mile to the rear of the 

It was just before this issue of the conflict that Buford sent his 
well-known despatch to Pleasanton, who was with the commanding 
general at Taneytown. It is timed 3.20 p. m. In it he said: 

"I am satisfied that Longstreet and Hill have made a junction. 
A tremendous battle has been raging since nine and a half A. M., with 
varying success. At the present moment the battle is raging on the 
road to Cash town, and in short cannon range of this town; the 
enemy's line is a semicircle on the height from north to west. Gen- 
eral Reynolds was killed early this morning. In my opinion there 
seems to be no directing person. — We need help now." 


Not until the Eleventh Corps, on its right, had entirely given 
way, was it that the First Corps was obliged to seek safety in re- 
treat. It was about 4 p. m. when the whole line was abandoned, 
the corps sullenly retiring toward Gettysburg, and turning at 
every favorable opportunity to check the too eager advance of 
the enemy. As the corps reached the town it necessarily became 
involved with the confused masses of the routed Eleventh Corps, 
and in consequence of this, the confusion naturally increasing, as 
the enemy were pressing forward on all sides, many prisoners were 

In this state of affairs, at nearly 4 p. m., when the whole of the 
positions previously occupied by the Federals had been abandoned, 
and when the troops from the First and Eleventh Corps were surging 
through the streets of Gettysburg, Hancock arrived upon the field 
at the cemetery. He had, after receiving the verbal and written 
orders of the commanding general, ridden direct from Taney- 

The sight which met his gaze upon his arrival at Cemetery Hill 
was, on the immediate ground, Smith's brigade, of Von Steinwehr's 
division, well posted, with Weidrich's battery, of the Eleventh Corps, 
along the crest of the hill. To the northward and westward, on the 
plain below, a half-mile distant, stretched the line of battle of Bu- 
ford's dismounted cavalry, interposing between the advancing en- 
emy's right wing, and presenting such a firm front to the enemy as 
to cause him on that part of the field to desist from his pursuit of the 
broken ranks of infantry. Beyond, to the north of Gettysburg, 
stretching toward Cemetery Hill, came the remnants of the Eleventh 
Corps, intermingled with some of the troops from the First Corps, 
who, until they had become entangled in the streets of the town 
with the disorganized masses of the Eleventh, had preserved the 
orderliness of their retreat. 

Hancock promptly addressed himself to the task of restoring order 
and forming a strong line of battle on the crest of Cemetery Hill. 
In this he was materially assisted by the exertions of Howard, Buford, 
and Warren, who, lately arrived upon the ground, rendered invalu- 
able aid in stopping stragglers and directing them upon the forma- 
tion of a line. Around Smith's brigade, as a nucleus, the rest of 
the Eleventh Corps was, through desperate efforts on the part of all 
the officers present, finally concentrated in line on the north and west 
faces of the extremity of Cemetery Hill. Robinson's and Double- 


day's divisions were posted on the left of the Eleventh Corps, on 
the continuation to the south on Cemetery Ridge. 

Hancock, perceiving signs among the enemy of the movement of a 
line of battle on the east, and recognizing the importance of the pos- 
session of Culp's Hill, to the east of Cemetery Hill, as a position, on 
account of its commanding the approaches from Gettysburg and 
communications along the Baltimore Pike and elsewhere, sent Wads- 
worth's division to occupy it. The batteries of the two corps were 
skilfully planted in positions along the line now occupied from Culp's 
Hill around by the way of the point of Cemetery Hill, down along its 
west side, and along its continuation as Cemetery Ridge. These dis- 
positions, taken together with the fire of the batteries, which opened 
whenever the enemy made any show of advancing, presented a suf- 
ficiently formidable front to deter him from attempting any serious 

At 5 p. m. Howard sent the following despatch to the commanding 
general : 

Headquarters Eleventh Corps, July 1, 5 p. m. 
First. Gen. Reynolds attacked the enemy as soon as he arrived, 
with one division, about 10.45 o'clock, A. m. He moved to the front 
of the town, driving in the enemy's advance for about half a mile, 
when he met with a strong force of A. P. Hill's corps. I pushed up 
as fast as I could by a parallel road; placed my corps in position on 
his right. General Reynolds was killed at eleven and a quarter A. M. 
I assumed command of the two corps and sent word to Slocum and 
Sickles to move up. I have fought the enemy from that time to 
this. The First Corps fell back, when outflanked on its left, to a 
stronger position, when the Eleventh Corps was ordered back also, 
to a stronger position. General Hancock arrived at 4 p. m., and com- 
municated his intentions. I am still holding on at this time. Slocum 
is near, but will not come up to assume command. 

O. O. Howard. 

Slocum had arrived with the Twelfth Corps, at 11 A. M., at a 
small place on the Baltimore Pike, called Two Taverns, about five 
miles from Gettysburg. Here he had halted his command to await 
further instructions. Finally, about 2 p. m., upon receipt of How- 
ard's urgent calls for assistance, he started his column in the direc- 
tion of Gettysburg. Williams's division, which was in advance, was, 


just before reaching Rock Creek, directed to the right by a cross- 
road to the Hanover Road, and to prepare to attack the enemy's 
left, moving from the east against the troops of the Eleventh Corps, 
supposed to be still in front of Gettysburg. He had marched for 
some distance in the direction indicated, when he was recalled, in- 
telligence having been received that the Federal troops had relin- 
quished the town. Williams therefore countermarched to near the 
crossing of Rock Creek by the Baltimore Pike, and there bivouacked. 

Geary's division, of the Twelfth Corps, which had followed Wil- 
liams on the Baltimore Pike, continued its way along the pike to and 
over the crossing at Rock Creek, still following the pike, which abuts 
on the very rear of Cemetery Hill. Arrived there, about 5 p. m., 
Geary reported to Hancock with two of his brigades, his third bri- 
gade having been, by order of Slocum, left as a reserve on the right. 
Hancock thereupon directed him to take his command over to the 
left of the First Corps, to occupy and prolong the line along Cemetery 
Ridge. Geary, in obedience to these directions, posted his division 
along Cemetery Ridge, from the left of the First Corps to Little 
Round Top, up the slope of which he placed two regiments of the 
First Brigade — the Fifth Ohio and the One Hundred and Forty- 
seventh Pennsylvania. 

Slocum, in person, did not arrive at Cemetery Hill until 6 p. m., 
and being the senior officer on the field, Hancock turned over the 
command to him, and everything being now quiet, started for Taney- 
town, to report to the commanding general. He arrived at Meade's 
head-quarters just as the general was starting for the front. 

It has been mentioned that, at one o'clock, Howard had sent an 
urgent message to Sickles, at Emmettsburg, to push on as rapidly 
as possible to Gettysburg. This message did not reach Sickles until 
three o'clock. He at once responded to the summons, leaving two 
brigades to guard the approaches to Emmettsburg, and moving with 
the rest of his corps toward Gettysburg. Birney, with two brigades 
of his division, arrived at Cemetery Ridge about 6 P. M., and was 
massed to the rear of the ridge, between it and the Taney town Road. 
Humphreys's division, owing to the fact that it had been put on the 
wrong road by a staff officer of Sickles's, did not reach the ridge until 
one o'clock in the morning of the following day. 

General Lee reached Seminary Ridge about half-past four in the 
afternoon, just as the Federal troops were retreating through the 
town of Gettysburg, taking position on the hills beyond. He then 


learned from prisoners and other sources that he had been engaged 
with two corps of the Army of the Potomac, and that the other corps, 
under General Meade, were approaching. Ignorant of the exact po- 
sition of the rest of the Army of the Potomac, he concluded that, 
with the force of only four divisions, which were all the troops he had 
then present, and these weary from a long and bloody struggle, he 
ought not to hazard attacking the Federals in the strong position 
which they occupied on Cemetery Hill. He, however, instructed 
Ewell, whose troops were in the best condition of any, and occupy- 
ing the best position, to carry Cemetery Hill, if possible, but not to 
run the risk of bringing on a general engagement before the arrival 
of the rest of the army. 

Ewell came to the conclusion that, from his position, Cemetery 
Hill could not be carried, and as his troops were very much fatigued 
by their long march and day's fighting, he decided to await the arrival 
of his Third Division, Johnson's, which was reported to be near at 
hand, and with it capture Culp's Hill, which commanded Cemetery 
Hill, and which seemed unoccupied. 

Johnson's division had passed the night of the 30th at Green- 
wood, and had moved forward during the day by the road thence 
to Gettysburg. Before Johnson could get into position, however, it 
was reported to Ewell that the enemy (probably Slocum's command) 
was moving on his left flank, and by the time that the report could 
be sifted the night had so far advanced that he relinquished his pur- 
pose of attempting to occupy Culp's Hill. Johnson, however, sent 
to the hill a reconnoitring party, which was attacked by Wadsworth's 
troops and driven away, many prisoners being captured. 

During the evening Smith's brigade, of Early's division, which 
was posted some distance out on the York Road, reported that a 
body of Federal troops was approaching by that road. Early there- 
fore despatched Gordon's brigade to keep a lookout in that direc- 
tion. During the night some of this command captured an orderly 
bearing a despatch from Sykes to Slocum, timed midnight, stating 
that he was four miles from Gettysburg, and would start for that 
place at four o'clock in the morning. 

Thus closed the first day of the battle. 

The general result of the day's operations had been decidedly in 
favor of the Confederates. The positions of the corps of the re- 
spective armies at the time when the approach of the Army of the 
Potomac became known to Lee had rendered it possible for him to 


issue such orders looking to final concentration as to enable him 
more speedily than lay within the power of his opponent to make 
that final concentration. The difference was not great; it was slight, 
in time, but it was appreciable in the results of the first day's con- 
test. Before dark of July 1 he had fully two-thirds of his army 
present on the field. That portion of his force which had been pres- 
ent during the day had far outnumbered the force opposed to it. 
It consisted of seventeen brigades of infantry, fifteen of which, with 
seventeen batteries of artillery, had been engaged. Of the Army of 
the Potomac there were present twelve brigades of infantry, two bri- 
gades of cavalry, and eleven batteries of artillery, of which eleven 
brigades of infantry, the two brigades of cavalry, and all the bat- 
teries of artillery had been engaged. 

Despite the superiority of his force, the enemy had only after a 
prolonged struggle, suffering great loss in killed and wounded, driven 
the Federal troops from their advanced position, and had compelled 
them to take refuge on the heights beyond the town of Gettysburg. 
On the left of the Federal line, the First Corps had for a long time 
maintained its position with such tenacity as to inflict greater loss 
than it sustained. This, too, to its honor be it said, it managed to 
do notwithstanding the untimely death of Reynolds, at the very 
beginning of the conflict — a loss irreparable as to command of the 
field, and also well calculated to impair the morale of any troops. 
No better evidence can exist as to the discipline, bravery, and 
determination of that corps than that, under the circumstances of 
repeated and prolonged assaults upon it by superior numbers, and 
of the loss of its accomplished leader, it undauntedly maintained 
its position, receiving and repulsing attack after attack from ten 
o'clock in the morning to four o'clock in the afternoon, and even 
taking the initiative when opportunity was afforded. Not until this 
fighting had been nearly continuous for hours, until fresh troops were 
brought forward to oppose it, not until both its flanks were envel- 
oped and its line of retreat seriously endangered, did this heroic 
corps abandon its last position. It was only in the retreat from the 
position on Seminary Hill that, through its entanglement in the 
streets of Gettysburg with the fragments of the Eleventh Corps, its 
loss in prisoners took place. 

In considering the indubitable fact of the rout of the Eleventh 
Corps, it would be unfair not to take into consideration the many 
disadvantages under which it labored. Most unfavorably situated 


as to position, with the greater portion of its troops stretched across 
an open plain, with little or no advantage for defence from the char- 
acter of the ground, it was hurried into action before its lines were 
thoroughly formed. Under these circumstances it was not capable 
of making the organized resistance which, otherwise, it might, under 
more favorable auspices, have opposed to the advance of the enemy. 

The Confederates, on their part, had fought with their usual cour- 
age and pertinacity. Being the attacking force, their losses in their 
repeated onslaughts on the Federal lines must have been very great. 
It is impossible to ascertain the exact amount of their losses. What 
is positively known, however, is that the brigades of Archer, Davis, 
O'Neill, Iverson, and Scales were, after the fight, mere skeletons of 
their previous organizations. That their success was not more fruit- 
ful of results was owing to the gallant stand made by the First Corps, 
to the promptness with which the line was re-established by Hancock 
on Cemetery Hill, and to Lee's ignorance of the exact position of the 
corps of the enemy that were still moving to the point of concentra- 

It is desirable here to glance at the positions of the respective 
armies at midnight, between July 1 and July 2. 1 

Of the Army of the Potomac there were in position, on Cemetery 
Hill and Ridge, and on Culp's Hill, the First Corps, including Stan- 
nard's Vermont Brigade (which, during the evening, had joined the 
corps after a forced march from the defences of Washington), the 
Eleventh Corps, the Twelfth Corps, and two brigades of one divi- 
sion (Birney's) of the Third Corps. Out on the plain, and stretching 
away parallel with Cemetery Ridge, were the lines of the two bri- 
gades of cavalry of the ever-watchful and tireless Buford. 2 The re- 
maining division of the Third Corps (Humphreys's) was making the 
best of its way, through the darkness of the night, on the road to 
Gettysburg, and was happily now near at hand. The Second Corps 
was on the Taneytown Road, about three miles from Gettysburg, 
where it had been halted by Hancock, to protect the left and rear, 
when he went in person to make his final report to the command- 
ing general. The Fifth Corps was four miles back on the Hanover 
Road, at Bonaughtown, making a brief halt after its long march, and 
only waiting for the dawn to push onward to the front. The Sixth 

x See Map No. 16, July 1, 12 p. m. 

2 The cavalry situations are not shown on maps, owing to their varied and 
extended positions. 


Corps was some hours out from Manchester, hastening along on its 
ever-memorable forced march to reach their comrades in battle. 

Merritt's cavalry brigade, of Buford's division, was still in the 
neighborhood of Mechanicstown, scouting the country in that direc- 
tion. Gregg was at Hanover, with two brigades of cavalry, having 
sent the Third Brigade (Huey's) back to Westminster, to assist in 
guarding the wagon trains of the army, now being collected there. 
Kilpatrick, after his encounter with Stuart, at Hanover, had followed 
him as far as Berlin, but failing to come up with him, had returned 
to Abbottstown, where Kilpatrick now was. Tyler, with the Reserve 
Artillery, except those batteries which had already gone forward 
by order of the commanding general, was on the road from Taney- 
town to Gettysburg, in the rear of the Second Corps. General Meade 
had just arrived on Cemetery Hill. 

On the Confederate side, in the immediate vicinity of the town 
of Gettysburg, with a partial formation confronting Cemetery Hill 
and the adjacent ground, were EwelPs corps and A. P. Hill's corps. 
McLaw's division, and Hood's division, of Longstreet's corps, ex- 
cept Law's brigade of the latter, which had been left on picket duty 
at New Guilford, were at the crossing of the Chambersburg Road 
over Marsh Creek. Pickett's division of this corps had remained 
at Chambersburg, guarding the rear. General Lee was encamped on 
Seminary Ridge, near the Chambersburg Pike, laying his plans for 
the morrow. 

In following the movements of Stuart, who had been making a 
cavalry raid from the rear around the right flank of the Army of the 
Potomac, we had left him, after his engagement with the cavalry 
under Kilpatrick, in which he had been forced to fall back from the 
town of Hanover, embarrassed with his captured wagons, and with 
his direct road to the north obstructed by Kilpatrick, hastening, as 
well as his jaded horses would permit, toward Jefferson, intending 
to go thence in the direction of York, and hoping ultimately to fall 
in with the column of Early. 

This, as will be remembered, was on the night of June 30. His 
objective point was, of course, the army of Lee, but between it and 
himself interposed the Army of the Potomac, and to make matters 
still more serious for him, the cavalry force of Kilpatrick was proving 
an obstacle in his path. It was an urgent necessity with him to be 
able, if possible, to join some of the infantry composing Lee's army, 
with which, uniting himself, he could thenceforward proceed with 


safety. Early, according to the best information which he could 
obtain, had left York and was marching to what Stuart had heard 
was Lee's point of concentration, at Shippensburg, but he hoped to 
intercept some portion of Ewell's force and accompany it to the 
main army. With this purpose in view, he deemed that the best 
plan for him to accomplish it would be to push on from Jefferson to 
Carlisle. On the morning of July 1 he arrived at Dover. Passing 
through Dillstown, he reached Carlisle on the afternoon of July 1, 
only to find all Ewell's troops gone and the town occupied by a Fed- 
eral force under General W. F. Smith, who had been sent forward 
from Harrisburg by General Couch. 

Stuart was by this time short of supplies, and both men and horses 
were thoroughly worn out from constant marching. Carlisle seemed 
to present an inviting opportunity of obtaining rations for his troops, 
of which he was not slow to attempt to avail himself. But, unfortu- 
nately for him, the presence of the force under Smith at once presented 
a serious obstacle to his intentions. He demanded the surrender of 
the town, but this being refused, he proceeded to shell it by way of 
enforcing compliance with his demands. While thus engaged, his 
operations were brought to an abrupt close by the receipt during the 
evening of a despatch from Lee, stating that the army was at Gettys- 
burg, and had been engaged all day with the enemy, and ordering 
him to move his command at once for that place. Then, burning 
the barracks, which lay just outside of the town of Carlisle, Stuart 
at once turned his column in the direction of Gettysburg. 



Just before midnight General Meade, entering at the rear of 
the little cemetery on Cemetery Hill, rode down its main drive, and 
dismounted at the little, old-fashioned lodge that stands at its en- 
trance on the Baltimore Pike. Here were assembled General Slocum, 
who had been in command of the field since Hancock had left it, 
Generals Howard, Sickles, Warren, and other officers. From them 
he received reports of the condition of affairs since Hancock's de- 
parture. Learning, in answer to his inquiry, that the position was 
considered a good one, he replied that he was glad to hear it, for it 
was now too late to leave it. He then notified the generals assem- 
bled that the whole army was on the march to Gettysburg, and, with 
the exception of the Sixth Corps, should be there by early morning. 

Shortly afterward the general, accompanied by one or two offi- 
cers, walked out beyond the Baltimore Pike, among the batteries 
posted on the brow of Cemetery Hill. Although it was too dark to 
distinguish individual objects at a distance, still he could see, look- 
ing toward the north and west, the general line of the camp-fires of 
the enemy's troops. The general position in the first day's battle 
of his own troops and of those of the enemy was pointed out to him. 
Silently gazing out into the stillness of the night, broken only by the 
voices of his companions, the growl of some tired soldier as he changed 
his uneasy position on the ground, or by the occasional ping of the 
bullet fired by some restless spirit along the picket line, the general, 
as he planned for the morrow's struggle, doubtless reverted in mind 
to the trusted friend, fallen at the beginning of that day's fight on 
the soil of his native State, of the soldier-friend, whose untimely death 
had cost ten thousand men upon whom he could no longer count. 

It was too dark to obtain a clear idea of the ground occupied by 
that portion of the army which had reached the field. General 
Meade therefore returned to the cemetery, where he addressed him- 
self to the task of making preparations for the next day. Before, 
however, it had yet become daylight, he mounted his horse, and ac- 



companied by Generals Howard and Hunt, and by Captain Paine, 
of the engineer staff, rode off to examine the lines. Riding slowly 
along in rear of the sleeping line of soldiers around Cemetery Hill, 
and along its continuation as Cemetery Ridge, and beyond, to where 
the land dips before it rises abruptly at the base of Little Round Top, 
he obtained a general knowledge of the features of the ground and 
of the chief accidents of its surface. As it was still dark when he 
had started along Ihe lines, of course only the most salient features 
of the ground could be recognized. Before, however, he had finished 
the examination, day began to break, and he concluded it by an 
inspection of the right, around Culp's Hill, to the crossing of Rock 
Creek by the Baltimore Pike. He finally indicated on Captain 
Paine's sketch of the ground just gone over the position to be held 
by each corps, and Captain Paine thereupon, by his orders, made 
from the sketch, and during the morning transmitted to each corps, 
a tracing showing the positions. The general, after having settled 
upon the positions to be occupied by the respective corps, sent Gen- 
eral Hunt for the second time to examine the lines, in order to make 
sure that the artillery was everywhere properly posted. 

A little farm-house on the western side of the Taneytown Road, 
directly in rear of Cemetery Ridge, had been selected for permanent 
head-quarters. Near by here, between six and seven o'clock in the 
morning, as General Meade was seated on horseback in a field on 
the east side of the Taneytown Road, somewhat below the house, 
General Gibbon rode up, just in advance of the head of the column 
of the Second Corps, and reported the presence of the corps. He was 
instructed by General Meade to place the corps in position on Ceme- 
tery Ridge, which was pointed out, extending the line toward Round 
Top, and was informed that the Third Corps would connect with his 
left. This formation brought the right of the Second Corps on the 
Taneytown Road, connecting with the left of the Eleventh Corps, at 
a clump of woods known as Ziegler's Grove, 1 thus relieving the divi- 
sions of Robinson and Doubleday, of the First Corps, which had 
during the night been occupying this line. These two divisions were 
then posted in rear of Cemetery Hill, in support of the Eleventh 
Corps. While the Second Corps was getting into position, General 
Hancock, just returned from Taneytown, arrived on the field and 
resumed command of his corps. 

The position of General Sickles, commanding the Third Corps, 
1 Not shown on map. 


was indicated to him in two specific ways — to relieve the division of 
General Geary, by occupying the line upon which he had been posted 
the night before by General Hancock; and to connect his right with 
the left of the Second Corps, prolonging his line on the ridge up to, 
and on to, Little Round Top, and, if practicable, to occupy it. 

General Sykes, of the Fifth Corps, with Barnes's and Ayres's 
divisions, arrived at eight o'clock, having at daylight marched from 
his bivouac at Bonaughtown. Crawford's division of this corps did 
not arrive until about noon. The two divisions were first posted on 
the extreme right, south of Rock Creek, but, this position being 
subsequently thought to involve too great a development of the lines 
toward the right, they were by General Meade's orders moved across 
Rock Creek and massed on the Baltimore Pike, in support of the 
Twelfth Corps. Williams's division of the Twelfth Corps, which 
had been reinforced during the morning by Lockwood's brigade, two 
regiments from the defences of Baltimore, was at the same time 
moved to the left, across Rock Creek, and posted, with its right 
resting on Rock Creek, on the right of Geary's division of the Twelfth, 
which, after having been relieved on the left by the Third Corps, had 
been moved over to join the other division of its own corps. This 
new line was naturally a very strong one, and it was increased in 
strength by breastworks along the whole crest of the ridge. 

The Artillery Reserve, under General Tyler, arrived during the 
morning. Thus the army, with the exception of the Sixth Corps, 
had now all reached the field, and those sturdy veterans, under their 
gallant leader, were known to be rapidly approaching. As soon as 
General Meade learned at Taneytown of the death of Reynolds, and 
that his corps was thus left without a proper commander, he had at 
once despatched orders to General Newton, then with the Sixth Corps, 
to proceed at once to Gettysburg and take command of the First 
Corps. This officer had in the early morning joined General Meade 
at the cemetery and reported to him. He had at the same time 
informed him that he had left General Sedgwick the night before at 
the head of his corps, on the direct road to Gettysburg, and that he 
was pushing forward as rapidly as possible. 

The army, as far as assembled, was now posted as follows: 1 On 
the extreme right, on the low ground of the valley of Rock Creek, 
from which is a rapid ascent to the summit of Culp's Hill, with its 
right resting on and commanding the passage of Rock Creek, near 

*See Map No. 17, July 2, 8.30 a. m. 


McAllister's Mills, was the Twelfth Corps (Slocum's), mostly along 
the crest of the rocky and wooded ridge trending southeast and de- 
scending sharply into the valley of Rock Creek. It rested in the 
order of Williams's division on the right and Geary's on the left, 
ranging up the acclivity, his left connecting with the right of Wads- 
worth's division of the First Corps, which occupied the very summit 
of the hill. On the left of Wadsworth, extending around the turn 
of Cemetery Hill, conformably to the ground, was the Eleventh Corps, 
Barlow's division, now commanded by Ames, on the right, on what 
is called East Cemetery Hill, Schurz in the centre and Von Steinwehr 
on the left, Von Steinwehr's left resting on Ziegler's Grove. On the 
left of the Eleventh Corps came the Second Corps, continuing the 
line along Cemetery Ridge to the south, Hays's division on the right, 
Gibbon's in the centre, and Caldwell's on the left. On the left of 
the Second Corps was the Third Corps, occupying the ground from 
Caldwell's left toward Little Round Top. 

The Fifth Corps was held in reserve on the right. The Artillery 
Reserve and its large trains were parked in a central position between 
the two flanks of the army, in the rear of Powers's Hill, on a road * 
connecting the Baltimore Pike and the Taneytown Road. Buford, 
with his two brigades of cavalry, was patrolling and picketing the 
ground on the left and front of the Round Tops, and the Third Corps, 
along the Emmettsburg Pike and roads in the vicinity, keeping a 
vigilant watch on the right and rear of the enemy. Merritt's bri- 
gade of this division was still detached in the neighborhood of Em- 
mettsburg. Gregg's division of cavalry, with the exception of Huey's 
brigade, arrived from Hanover about noon, and was posted on the 
extreme right flank of the army, at the intersection of the Hanover 
Road and the Low Dutch Road, with a line of pickets almost joining 
the right of the infantry line. Kilpatrick's division of cavalry, which 
had been at Abbottstown on the night of the 1st of July, was moving 
back from that place to join the right flank of the army. 

While the army was coming up and going into position, General 
Meade personally, and through his staff, was engaged in assigning 
and rectifying positions, watching the enemy, and studying the field. 
Only after having issued all his principal orders and instructions of a 
preliminary kind did he establish himself at head-quarters. He then 
gave certain directions to his chief of staff, with respect to obtaining 
knowledge of the roads and country to the rear — information that 

1 Not shown on map. 


might be needed as the basis of instructions under specified contin- 

The head-quarters selected for General Meade were very conven- 
iently situated, being central to all parts of the lines and easy of ac- 
cess. They were in the immediate rear of the Second Corps, and in 
close proximity to Hancock's head-quarters. They were but a short 
distance from the cemetery, where Howard and Newton were to be 
found, a few minutes' ride from Powers's Hill, where Slocum had his 
head-quarters, and not far from the Third Corps and Little Round 
Top, which was in plain view. 

Somewhere between eight and nine o'clock in the morning, when 
nearly all of his staff were absent on various duties, General Meade 
came out of the little house, and glancing around and seeing Captain 
Meade, one of his aides, called him. To one who was familiar with 
the general's manner and tones of voice in different moods he seemed 
in excellent spirits, as if well pleased with affairs as far as they had 
proceeded. It was almost the first moment since his taking command 
that he had had an opportunity for private intercourse with any one. 
After addressing some pleasant remarks to Captain Meade, he in- 
structed him to go to General Sickles, to indicate to him where the 
general head-quarters were, to inquire of him if his troops were yet 
in position, and to ask him what he had to report. 

Captain Meade rode at once down the Taneytown Road for a 
distance of somewhere between a quarter and a half of a mile, when 
he came upon what proved to be the temporary head-quarters of the 
Third Corps. They were in a small patch of woods on the west side 
of the Taneytown Road. No one but Captain Randolph, General 
Sickles's chief of artillery, seemed to be about. Captain Meade ex- 
pressed to this officer his wish to see General Sickles, and was in reply 
informed that General Sickles, being very tired, having had the day 
before a hard day, and having also been up all night, was at that 
moment resting in his tent, which was pitched in the vicinity. Upon 
receiving this statement Captain Meade delivered to Captain Ran- 
dolph the message committed to him by General Meade. Captain 
Randolph thereupon said that he would at once see General Sickles, 
went into the tent, and after a few minutes' absence, returned. He 
then informed Captain Meade that the Third Corps was not yet in 
position, that General Sickles was in some doubt as to where he 
should go. 

It will be seen from General Meade's message, coupled with Gen- 


eral Sickles's reply, that previous instructions had evidently been 
sent and received. This is assumed in General Meade's message 
and implied in the response. Captain Meade, having at the time 
no knowledge of the character of these instructions, was unable to 
attempt to rectify- any misunderstanding. He had been merely told 
to find out whether the Third Corps was yet in position. He there- 
fore replied to Captain Randolph that he would return at once to 
head-quarters to report the facts. Riding as rapidly as possible, he 
was in a few minutes again with General Meade, to whom he re- 
peated what he had seen and heard. At the moment when he reached 
head-quarters, General Meade was still in the little inclosure surround- 
ing the house, a number of officers having assembled there. Upon 
hearing what Captain Meade had to report, the general said to him 
in his sharp, decisive way, to ride back as rapidly as possible to Gen- 
eral Sickles, and to say to him that his instructions were to go into 
position on the left of the Second Corps; that his right was to con- 
nect with the left of the Second Corps; that he was to prolong with 
his line the line of that corps, occupying the position that General 
Geary had held the night before. Captain Meade was also instructed 
to say that it was of the utmost importance that his troops should be 
in position as quickly as possible. 

By the time that Captain Meade, returning at once, had again 
reached General Sickles's head-quarters, he found the tents about to 
be struck, the general just mounted, while several of his staff-officers, 
also mounted, were gathered around him. Captain Meade delivered 
his message to the general in person, whereupon he replied that his 
troops were then moving, and would be in position shortly, adding 
something as to General Geary's not having had any position, but 
being massed in the vicinity. He then rode off in the direction of 
the front. 

As Captain Meade was about to retire, Captain Randolph re- 
quested that he would ask General Hunt to come out there to look 
at some positions he had selected for artillery. Captain Meade then 
rode back to head-quarters and reported to General Meade what 
General Sickles had said. 

These, as the reader will soon discover for himself, are not unim- 
portant details. They relate to a part of the field in which the battle 
of the second day was the most severe, and where the fortunes of 
the Federal army hung for a long time doubtful in the balance. 
They relate to preliminary matters which, had they been different, 


as intended by the commanding general, so also would have been 
very different the battle of the second day. 

It has been asserted by General Sickles that he had received no 
orders of any kind from General Meade, and that his preliminary 
movements had to be made on his own responsibility. It has, how- 
ever, been seen that, certainly before nine o'clock in the morning, 
he was notified in direct and positive terms what his position was ex- 
pected to be, and that his reply indicated the receipt of previous 
orders. It was at the time thought that General Sickles fully under- 
stood where he was to go. The character of the messages sent by 
him to the commanding general left no impression on the mind of 
the latter, that there was any misunderstanding of moment. Later 
in the day, when it was discovered in what an extraordinary posi- 
tion General Sickles had placed his corps, General Meade deemed it 
barely possible he had misconstrued his orders. Not until nine 
months after the battle, when the remarkable proceedings before the 
committee on the conduct of the war had developed themselves, 
did he come to the conclusion that his orders had been wilfully dis- 

From reports of signal officers and others, indications appearing 
of an attempt of the enemy to move around the right flank of the 
army, General Meade, after inspection of this part of the field during 
the morning, thought that an opportunity might present itself of 
making an attack upon the enemy from that quarter. This, or any 
other partial attack, was entirely compatible with his policy and in- 
tention to fight a defensive battle, in view of the fact that, unless 
his left flank were turned, and the enemy threatened to interpose 
between him and Baltimore and Washington, he, much better than 
the enemy, who must depend upon the country for supplies, could 
afford to play a waiting game. He instructed General Slocum to 
examine minutely the ground on the right, and to report as to the 
expediency of making a vigorous attack with a force composed of his 
own corps (the Twelfth) and the Fifth Corps; the attack to begin 
upon the arrival of the Sixth Corps, which was to co-operate with the 
two other corps. General Warren, the chief engineer of the army, 
was detailed to aid General Slocum in his examination of the ground. 
General Slocum reported unfavorably as to the attack, stating that 
he did not think that the ground occupied by the enemy on his front 
presented any inducement to dislodge him, and General Warren also 
reported that he did not think an attack advisable from that point. 


Upon receiving these reports General Meade decided to abandon the 
projected attack, and to postpone all offensive operations until the 
arrival of the Sixth Corps, or until the intentions of the enemy were 
more fully developed. 

The Army of the Potomac, except the Sixth Corps, coming up 
by a forced march, having now arrived and been deployed to meet 
the enemy forming on the opposite hills, and now awaiting his ini- 
tiative, the reader may seize the opportunity to glance at the prepara- 
tions of the Confederate army for the renewal of the contest. 

On the early morning of July the 2d, Ewell's and Hill's troops 
having all reached the field during the night, were placed in position. 
Ewell's was posted on the left, extending from Benner's Hill to the 
seminary, through the town of Gettysburg. His line thus covered 
the right wing of the Army of the Potomac. The order in which 
the corps held the ground was, with Johnson's division on the left, 
Early's in the centre, and Rodes's on the right. Hill's corps was 
formed along Seminary Ridge, with Pender's division on the left, 
his left resting on the seminary, Anderson's division on the right, 
and Heth's division, now under command of Pettigrew, held in 

During the morning, as Wilcox's, the right brigade of Anderson's 
division, was extending its line to the right, his two right regiments, 
the Tenth and the Eleventh Alabama, encountered and drove back 
a force under Colonel Berdan, sent out by General Sickles to recon- 
noitre. This, therefore, at that point of time, was the extreme right 
of the Confederate line. It rested about opposite to Caldwell's di- 
vision of the Second Corps. 

Longstreet's two divisions, commanded by McLaws and Hood, 
left at daylight their bivouac at the Chambersburg Road crossing of 
Marsh Creek, and about eight o'clock halted in the fields in the rear 
of the seminary. Pickett's division of this corps was still at Cham- 

General Lee, who had carefully studied the Federal lines the day 
before and again this morning, sent word to General Ewell to examine 
the ground in his front and to prepare to assault the enemy from that 
point. This in the contrary sense, the reader will observe, is what 
General Meade contemplated doing, up to the moment when he re- 
ceived the unfavorable reports of Generals Slocum and Warren. It 
seems to have been General Lee's first intention to move the bulk 
of his army to this flank and to assault there. He, like General 


Meade, was deterred from doing this by the unfavorable reports of 
subordinates. He, then returning from personal inspection of this 
part of the field, resolved to make the main attack well over on the 
Federal left. Instructions to this end were given to General Long- 
street, who was ordered to move his command to the right, and, 
gaining the Emmettsburg Road, to envelop the left flank of the 
enemy. At the same time orders were sent to Ewell to co-operate 
in this attack by a simultaneous advance of his troops against the 
Federal right. General Longstreet, however, not deeming himself 
in sufficient force to make the attack, delayed action in the con- 
certed movement, so as to give time for the arrival of Law's brigade, 
which had been left behind on picket, and thus its inception was 
postponed until nearly noon, at which time Law had arrived. 

The morning had passed very quietly so far as sound was con- 
cerned. Occasionally there was some firing along the skirmish lines, 
as on either side new lines were being developed. This was varied 
by an occasional artillery duel, as the position of a battery was de- 
tected. General Meade was, as has been said, resting his troops, 
strengthening his lines, awaiting the arrival of the Sixth Corps, and 
watching for any offensive movement on the part of the enemy. 

It was during the maintenance of this attitude on both sides that, 
about eleven o'clock, General Sickles rode up to head-quarters, when 
some conversation occurred between him and General Meade as to 
his position. General Meade repeated what his intention was — that 
he was to occupy the position in which he understood that General 
Hancock had the night before placed General Geary. General Sickles 
stated in reply that, as far as he could gather, Geary had had no 
position. General Meade then explained to him that he was ex- 
pected to prolong the line of the Second Corps, that his right was 
to rest on Hancock's left, and his left on Little Round Top, which 
General Meade pointed out to him. Some further conversation took 
place, in which General Sickles said that there was in the vicinity 
of where his corps was some very good ground for artillery, and re- 
quested that a staff -officer of General Meade's might be permitted to 
go out to see to the posting of his artillery. He also inquired if he 
were not authorized to post his corps in such manner as in his judg- 
ment he should deem most advisable. General Meade replied, " Cer- 
tainly, within the limits of the general instructions I have given you; 
any ground within those limits you choose to occupy, I leave to you." 
General Meade then directed General Hunt to accompany General 


Sickles, for the purpose of examining such positions as General Sickles 
might think good for artillery, and of giving General Sickles the ben- 
efit of his advice. 

About eleven o'clock was committed a blunder on the left which 
had a serious effect on the immediately ensuing movements on that 
part of the field. With only partial information afforded him by 
Generals Pleasanton and Butterfield, chief of staff, the command- 
ing general became a party to an action the bearings of which, when 
he soon thereafter learned of them, he repudiated as wholly beside 
his intention. Buford, as has been noted, had had his two brigades 
of cavalry out patrolling all the left front; in fact, almost all the 
way to Fairfield. His command had been for a long time on con- 
stant and active duty. It had been, as the reader has seen, engaged 
in the battle of the day before, bringing the Confederates to their 
first stand. He was out of rations and forage. His horses, through 
loss of shoes from continuously hard work, were becoming unservice- 
able. Seeing the army nearly up, he thought that he might be re- 
lieved, in order to refit. He therefore sent word to this effect to 
Pleasanton, who in turn reported the matter to head-quarters. Gen- 
eral Meade, having previously been informed that all the cavalry 
was up, and taking it for granted that Pleasanton would substitute 
other cavalry for Buford's, gave permission to relieve him, directing 
that he should collect the trains of the army and guard them to 
Westminster, where he could refit. Without replacing Buford's with 
other cavalry, Pleasanton relieved him from duty, and thus the whole 
left flank of the army was destitute of cavalry. General Meade did 
not learn of this state of affairs until shortly before one o'clock. He 
was exceedingly annoyed, stating emphatically that he had had no 
intention of denuding his left wing by stripping it of cavalry. He at 
once ordered Pleasanton either to recall Buford or to bring forward 
some other cavalry. Unfortunately, it was too late to recall Buford; 
he was far on his way to Taneytown. A regiment of cavalry was 
therefore ordered over from Gregg, on the right wing; but by the 
time that it arrived it was too late to be of any service in the emer- 
gency, the enemy having enveloped all the left front and the action 
there having begun. 

About 3 p. m. the near approach of the head of the column of the 
Sixth Corps was reported. The whole army was now up, and as the 
expected attack of the enemy had not taken place, General Meade, 
preliminary to any offensive action that he might take, sent for his 


corps commanders to assemble at head-quarters for consultation and 
explanation of his intentions. At 3 p. m. he sent General Halleck 
the following despatch, fully describing the situation at that hour: 

Headquarteks near Gettsyburg, July 2, 1863, 3 p. m. 
Maj. Genl. Halleck, General-in-Chief: 

I have concentrated my army at this place to-day. The Sixth 
Corps is just coming in, very much worn out, having been marching 
since 9 p. m. last night. 

The army is fatigued. I have to-day, up to this hour, awaited 
the attack of the enemy, I having a strong position for defensive. 
I am not determined on attacking him till his position is more devel- 
oped. He has been moving on both my flanks apparently, but it is 
difficult to tell exactly his movements. I have delayed attacking to 
allow the Sixth Corps and parts of other corps to reach this place 
and rest the men. Expecting a battle, I ordered all my trains to the 
rear. If not attacked, and I can get any positive information of the 
position of the enemy which will justify me in so doing, I shall attack. 
If I find it hazardous to do so, or am satisfied the enemy is endeavor- 
ing to move to my rear and interpose between me and Washington, 
I shall fall back to my supplies at Westminster. I will endeavor to 
advise you as often as possible. In the engagement yesterday the 
enemy concentrated more rapidly than we could, and towards even- 
ing, owing to the superiority of numbers, compelled the Eleventh 
and First Corps to fall back from the town to the heights this side, 
on which I am now posted. I feel fully the responsibility resting on 
me, but will endeavor to act with caution. 

George G. Meade. 
Major General. 

Most of the corps commanders had arrived at head-quarters and 
entered into brief conversations, when General Warren, learning 
through a report just brought to him of an inspection of the lines 
on the left, that General Sickles was not in the proper position, com- 
municated the fact to the commanding general. At this moment 
there was some cannonading and a dropping fire of musketry over 
on the left. General Meade at once ordered Sykes, who was at head- 
quarters, to march his corps over to the left as quickly as possible, 
saying that he himself would meet him there and see to its posting. 
He was about to mount his horse, when General Sickles, having been 


detained, presented himself in answer to the general summons. Gen- 
eral Meade, telling him not to dismount, said that as there seemed 
to be some firing on his front, he would follow him out to the line. 
General Sickles then rode rapidly back to his corps, General Meade 
following him at a short distance. On passing the left of the Second 
Corps, General Meade, although prepared by the report of General 
Warren to find the Third Corps out of position, was wholly unpre- 
pared to find it advanced far beyond any possible construction of its 
being on the prolongation of the line of the Second Corps. Its lines 
were over half a mile out to the front, to the Emmettsburg Road, 
entirely disconnected with the rest of the army, and beyond support- 
ing distance. Riding rapidly in that direction, the general reached 
a point almost in the rear of the position of Sickles, where he was 
joined by that officer. 

At the moment when Sickles received, through Captain Meade, 
the order to establish the Third Corps on the prolongation to the 
left of the line of the Second Corps, he was actually there. Hum- 
phreys's division of the corps was massed on the left of the Second 
Corps, and Birney's division was in line to the left of Humphreys's 
near Little Round Top. At seven o'clock in the morning, Birney 
had relieved the troops of Geary's division and formed his line with 
his left resting near Little Round Top, with his right thrown in a 
direct line toward the cemetery, connecting on the right with Hum- 
phreys's division, his skirmishers thrown out to the Emmettsburg 
Road. The corps, as thus placed, was, with the exception that Little 
Round Top was not occupied, posted conformably to General Meade's 
instructions. The two brigades of the corps left at Emmettsburg, 
which had been ordered up by General Meade on the preceding night, 
had rejoined their respective divisions. These two brigades, De Tro- 
briand's and Burling's, had started from Emmettsburg at daylight, 
and marching by the direct road, unmolested on their march, and 
seeing no signs of the enemy, had about nine or ten o'clock in the 
morning struck the Peach Orchard, and through it reached the lines 
on Cemetery Hill. 

Sickles, returning from his visit to head-quarters, accompanied 
by Hunt, stated to him as they rode along that he wished to throw 
his line forward from the position which it then occupied to some 
high ground in front, so as to cover the Emmettsburg Pike. Hunt, 
knowing that Sickles had left his artillery ammunition train to follow 
his forward march to Gettysburg, inferred from this remark that 
Sickles wished to control that road until the train should arrive. 


Sickles and Hunt rode directly to the position at the Peach Or- 
chard, and from that point Sickles pointed out the line which he 
proposed occupying. Between Cemetery Ridge and Seminary Ridge, 
just west of Little Round Top, and distant from it five hundred yards, 
there rises a rocky ridge which trends west to the Emmettsburg Pike 
at the Peach Orchard. The ridge is here intersected by another run- 
ning north along the Emmettsburg Pike and fading away toward the 
north about where the Rogers house 1 stands. It was to these two 
ridges, presently to be more minutely described, that Sickles proposed 

Hunt, after examining the position along the Emmettsburg Pike 
to the Peach Orchard, remarked that the right of the proposed line 
was out where it would not be connected with the Second Corps; 
that to connect it would necessitate the throwing out the left wing 
of that corps, and that that could not well be done unless some woods 
that were in front were under control, so that the enemy could not 
take possession of them. At his suggestion, Sickles ordered out a 
force to reconnoitre the woods to the front and right, to ascertain 
if the enemy occupied them. About this time a very heavy cannon- 
ade opening over on the right, at the cemetery, Hunt, anxious about 
what was occurring there, and having now finished the examination 
of the line along the Emmettsburg Pike, told Sickles that he would 
ride on, and returning to head-quarters by way of Round Top, thus 
incidentally finish the inspection of the proposed line. As he was 
leaving, Sickles inquired of him if it would be proper for him to move 
forward and occupy the line which he had indicated. To this Hunt 
replied, decidedly not; that before doing so he should wait for orders 
from General Meade. Hunt then continued on his way, examining 
the remainder of the line. He found that, while the line possessed 
certain favorable conditions, it would so greatly lengthen the general 
line as to render it impossible for the Third Corps alone to hold it, 
and that, in addition to this, if the enemy should hold the woods on 
its front, it would be difficult to occupy and strengthen the salient 
angle at the Peach Orchard. In brief, there were certain points of 
the proposed line in its favor, provided it were, as it was not, sup- 
ported on both right and left; but besides exposing the left flank of 
the Second Corps, it was, with relation to the position of the rest of 
the army, wholly unsupporting and unsupported. On his way to 
the cemetery, General Hunt stopped at head-quarters and briefly re- 
ported to the commanding general the result of his examination of 

1 Not shown on map. 


the ground, adding that, if he were General Meade, he would not 
order troops out there until he had personally examined the line; 
that its relations to the general line were such that he himself would 
not take the responsibility of advising further in the matter. 

The force sent out to reconnoitre by General Sickles, at the sug- 
gestion of General Hunt, was composed of about one hundred men 
of the First New York Sharpshooters, supported by the Third Maine 
Regiment, all under command of Colonel Berdan. It advanced from 
the Peach Orchard and entered the woods beyond, where it was de- 
ployed and moved for some distance through them in a northerly 
direction, parallel to the Emmettsburg Pike. It soon came into 
contact with a force of the enemy's, which was, as already noted 
when speaking of the enemy's dispositions, a detachment of Wilcox's 
brigade, of Anderson's division, which then formed the extreme right 
of the Confederate army, and which was pushing out in this direction, 
reconnoitring preparatory to straightening the lines. After a sharp 
fight Berdan's force was driven back with considerable loss. This 
encounter was reported, about two o'clock, to General Sickles. Not- 
withstanding that Hunt had cautioned Sickles against moving out 
on his proposed line without orders from General Meade, yet, al- 
though he had received no such authority, but on the contrary, had 
thrice received explicit instructions as to the proper line to occupy, 
he determinedly, in direct disobedience of orders, began to move his 
line out to this advanced position. 

The author has been greatly indebted for the following details of 
the ground to the admirable description of it by General Hunt, in 
his "The Second Day at Gettysburg," in the Century Magazine, 
for December, 1886: 

"The ground in the immediate rear of the ridge about to be oc- 
cupied, of which there is now to become as much question as of the 
ground along the ridge itself, seeing that the contest raged over its 
whole extent and ended somewhat along lines where it should have 
begun, renders necessary here a description of the whole area involved, 
as its formation is far from simple. 

"From Ziegler's Grove, 1 Cemetery Ridge runs for nearly half a 
mile about due south to another clump of trees. Here it turns 
abruptly to the east for two hundred yards, and then, turning south 
again, runs directly towards Round Top for a few hundred yards, until 

1 A point on the Taneytown Road occupied by the right of the Second Corps 
and left of the Eleventh Corps. 


it reaches George Weikert's house. 1 The ridge, so far, is, with the ex- 
ception of the two small groves mentioned, smooth and unwooded, 
and distant from Seminary Ridge, opposite, occupied by the enemy, 
very nearly a mile. At George Weikert's house the continuity of 
the ridge is lost in a tumbled mass of rock and hill and wood, com- 
pelling an eastward bend of the Taneytown Road, and falling rug- 
gedly towards the west for a few hundred yards in the direction of 
Plum Run. At the south this rough ground ends abruptly at the 
low spot before mentioned, from which, somewhat further on to the 
south, rises the base of Little Round Top. This ground is densely 
wooded, and between it and Plum Run lay a clearing of three hun- 
dred yards in width, a portion of the generally open country on the 
immediate front of Cemetery Ridge. 

" Devil's Den is the space enclosed by the confluence of Plum Run 
and a small affluent. Plum Run flows in a southeasterly course to- 
wards Little Round Top, and then, making a bend to the southwest, 
receives, at a short distance from there, a small tributary, Plum Run 
Branch, flowing from Seminary Ridge. It is a bold, rocky hill, lying 
between these streams; steep, like an escarpment, on its eastern face, 
and prolonged in a ridge-like manner towards the west. It is five 
hundred yards west of Little Round Top, and lower by one hundred 
feet than that summit. The surface on its northern extremity con- 
sists of huge rocks and bowlders, forming numerous crevices and 
chasms. Plum Run valley and the slopes of both of the Round Tops 
are covered with bowlders. 

"A cross-road between the Taneytown Road and the Emmetts- 
burg Pike runs along the northern base of Devil's Den. From its 
crossing at Plum Run to the Peach Orchard is eleven hundred yards. 
For four hundred yards of this distance there were woods on the 
north side, and a wheat field on the south side of the road. Beyond 
this point the road continues for seven hundred yards to the Emmetts- 
burg Pike, along Devil's Den Ridge, which on the north slopes down 
to Plum Run, and on the south to Plum Run Branch. 

"From Ziegler's Grove the Emmettsburg Pike runs diagonally 
across the valley between Cemetery and Seminary Ridges, crossing 
Seminary Ridge two miles from Ziegler's Grove. From the Peach 
Orchard to Ziegler's Grove is nearly a mile and a half. For half a 
mile of this distance the road runs along a ridge at right angles to 
the ridge of Devil's Den. The salient angle is therefore formed by 

1 Not shown on map. 


the intersection of two bold ridges, one starting from Devil's Den, 
the other defined by the course of the Emmettsburg Pike. It is dis- 
tant about six hundred yards from the woods that skirt Seminary 
Ridge and cover the movement of troops between it and Willoughby 
Run, half a mile beyond, to the west. 

"South of the two Round Tops the country is free of natural 
impediments, the stone-fencing of the land being the chief obstacle 
to freedom of movement." 

It was about two o'clock that Sickles's advance began. Birney's 
left was moved forward a quarter of a mile, resting on the rocky 
ground directly in front of Little Round Top, his right swung around 
so that it faced nearly south and rested on the Emmettsburg Road, 
at right angles to that road, at the Peach Orchard. 

Humphreys's division had since early in the morning been massed 
on Cemetery Ridge on the left of the Second Corps. About noon it 
was ordered to form line of battle with its right resting on the Second 
Corps and left touching Birney's right. Owing to the position of 
Birney's line Humphreys found it impossible to fulfil both require- 
ments, and learning from General Caldwell, commanding the division 
on the left of the Second Corps, that he had no orders to advance, 
Humphreys reported the fact to General Sickles. He was, neverthe- 
less, ordered to move forward and form some five hundred yards in 
advance. This brought the left of his line to touch Birney's line, 
and his right five hundred yards in advance of the left of the Second 
Corps, and he was authorized to call upon Caldwell for support. 

The ground upon which, in consequence of this movement, Gen- 
eral Humphreys had been obliged to take his stand was in a hollow, 
sloping up to the Emmettsburg Road on his front, and to Cemetery 
Ridge in his rear. The ground immediately beyond the ridge on his 
front, beyond the Emmettsburg Road, fell away to the west toward 
Seminary Ridge. While in this position, Humphreys's Third Bri- 
gade, Burling's, was ordered away beyond his left, in support of 
Birney's division. Humphreys remained in this position until about 
four o'clock in the afternoon, with his skirmishers out on the Em- 
mettsburg Road. Then, in obedience to orders from General Sickles, 
he began to move his troops still farther to the Emmettsburg Road 
on his front. Sickles thus still farther increased the gap that lay 
between Humphreys's troops and the left of the Second Corps. Hum- 
phreys's right, in the advanced position which he now reached, was 
three-quarters of a mile in front of the Second Corps. Thence his 


line swept along the Emmettsburg Pike, connecting with the right 
of Birney at the Peach Orchard, where the centre of the whole line 
rested at the salient angle already described, continuing beyond until 
the extreme left rested a quarter of a mile in front of Little Round 
Top, on the rocky ground of Devil's Den, with a valley between the 
left and the Round Tops, easy of access to the enemy. As the line 
was now formed, to the cost of the gallant Third Corps, it was not 
only disconnected from the rest of the army, and with flanks exposed, 
but it was less compact than the other, being over a quarter of a mile 
longer than the line which had been relinquished. Putting out of 
consideration the fact that there was a gap between it and the Sec- 
ond Corps of three-quarters of a mile, its length was over a mile and 
a quarter, as against that of the direct line between the left of the 
Second Corps and Little Round Top of less than a mile. 1 

Add to all these egregious defaults, that General Sickles did not 
even notify General Hancock, the commander of the Second Corps, 
on his right, the corps with which he had been ordered to connect, 
that he intended to advance. That general, with General Gibbon 
and others of his officers, was at the moment of the advance on the 
hill near the centre of his own line, looking with astonishment at the 
forward movement of the troops from a position which he had been 
informed represented in that place the line of battle. He and they 
were at utter loss to comprehend the meaning of the movement, but 
the immediate and far-reaching consequences of it, when in a few 
minutes the enemy's guns opened on the flank of that part of the line 
stretched along the Emmettsburg Pike, then became apparent to all. 

At the moment when General Meade joined General Sickles the 
troops of the latter could hardly be said to be in any determinate 
position. General Meade having, on his way out to the front, in a 
measure taken in the situation of affairs, now asked Sickles to indi- 
cate to him his general position. When General Sickles had done 
so, General Meade told him that the line was not that intended to 
be occupied. Turning and pointing to the rear, to the unoccupied 
interval between the left of the Second Corps and Little Round Top, 
General Meade said that that was the line which he had been ordered 
to occupy; that he had advanced his line beyond supporting distance 
of the army; that the ground he was then on was neutral ground; 
that the enemy could not occupy it for the same reasons that his 
own troops could not. General Meade continued that he was fearful 

iSee Map No. 18, July 2, 4.30 p. m. 


the enemy would attack before he (Sickles) could be properly sup- 
ported; that either he would lose the artillery which had been posted 
far to the front, or else that, if supported, the whole of the line which 
he had adopted would have to be abandoned; or, in other words, 
that he would have to fight the battle out where he was. General 
Sickles expressed deep regret at having occupied a position which did 
not meet the views of General Meade, and said that he would with- 
draw his troops to the line which General Meade had indicated. 
General Meade replied, " Yes, you may as well, at once. The enemy 
will not let you withdraw without taking advantage of your position, 
but you have to come back, and you may as well do it at once as at 
any other time." General Sickles had but just turned to order the 
execution of this movement, when the batteries opened with a terrific 
cannonade in front and to the left of the Peach Orchard, and General 
Meade, calling him back, said that, now that his line was about to 
be assailed, it was too late to retire, and ordered him to hold on and 
do the best he could, telling him that he would be supported. Gen- 
eral Sickles then rode off. It was now between four and half -past 
four o'clock in the afternoon. 

As the Third Corps was now posted, Birney's division was in 
position on the crest from Devil's Den to the Peach Orchard; Ward's 
brigade on the left, Graham's on the right, at the Angle, De Trobri- 
and's in the centre, connecting them by a slender line. Smith's bat- 
tery was with Ward, on the rocky hill at Devil's Den, Winslow's 
battery in the Wheat Field, and Clarke's on the crest in the Peach 
Orchard, facing south, while Randolph's was near the Angle, facing 
west. Humphreys's division was moving forward to take position 
on the crest along the Emmettsburg Road, his division in two lines, 
the first in line of battle, the second in line of battalions in mass. As 
he advanced the enemy opened with artillery, enfilading his left, and 
a little later with artillery on his front. 

Hunt, who had immediately returned to this part of the field 
after his inspection at Cemetery Hill, at once sent to the Reserve 
Artillery for McGilvery's brigade. At the point of time when the 
enemy's batteries opened, he happened to be with Smith's battery 
on the rocky summit of Devil's Den. Smith had, after great exertions, 
just succeeded in getting his guns into position, hauling them by hand, 
one by one, over the rocks, and had opened with good effect on the 
advancing lines of the enemy. Hunt, as he left him to look for rein- 
forcements, remarked to him that he would probably lose his battery. 


McGilvery's brigade soon arrived, and Bigelow's, Phillips's, 
Hart's, and Thompson's batteries from it were ordered into posi- 
tion on the crest along the left centre and in the Peach Orchard, at 
the point of time when the enemy opened fire from a long line of 
guns posted along his front beyond the Emmettsburg Road. 

The Confederate commanders were quick to perceive the absence 
of cavalry on the Federal left, and to take advantage of the fact. 
Scouts were at once sent out, with instructions to make their way 
through the woods and up to the summit of Round Top. Several 
Federal stragglers, who, ignorant of their position, were making their 
way from the trains in the rear of Round Top toward the Emmetts- 
burg Road, in which direction they imagined the rear of their own 
army to be, were captured by the enemy. From information gath- 
ered from these men, and from the reports of the scouts, who very 
soon returned, having been upon Round Top and discovered that it 
was unoccupied, it was learned that there were no troops either there 
or in that direction. On the strength of these reports the Confed- 
erate officers on this part of the field proposed a flank movement 
around and the occupation of Round Top. The suggestion, how- 
ever, was not favorably entertained, and the attack was at once 

This attack of the enemy, about to be received, was made by the 
divisions of Hood and McLaws, under Longstreet. We found these 
divisions leaving, about noon, the neighborhood of the seminary and 
marching to assault the left of the Federal line. There was great 
delay in this march, caused principally by the aim of the command- 
ing officers to so mask the line of march behind the hills that it could 
not be detected by the Federal signal station on Little Round Top. 
The route followed was in consequence a roundabout one; there were 
many vexatious halts, so that it was past four o'clock in the after- 
noon before the troops came into position. McLaws's division, 
which had been leading the column, was formed on the right of A. 
P. Hill's corps, extending diagonally toward the Emmettsburg Road, 
Kershaw's brigade on the right and Barksdale's on the left, opposite 
the Peach Orchard, supported by Semmes's and Wofford's brigades, 
in reserve. 

It appears that, at first, the Confederate commanders supposed 
that this extension of their right represented the point of extreme 
extension of the Union left. But, subsequently, finding that Sick- 
les's corps curved backward, extending to Devil's Den, Hood's di- 


vision, which had been marching in rear of McLaws's, was moved 
farther to the right, and formed line with McLaws's, with its right 
stretching across the Emmettsburg Road ; Law's brigade on the right, 
Robertson's on the left, with Anderson's and Benning's brigades in 
support. Some twenty guns were posted in favorable positions along 
the line. The line thus occupied a partially wooded ridge, with open 
ground in front for about seven hundred yards east of the Emmetts- 
burg Road, to the wooded heights held by the Third Corps. 

The enemy, as has been said, opened with artillery fire, which con- 
tinued for some time along their whole front, promptly and vigor- 
ously replied to by the Federal batteries. The order of infantry at- 
tack was for the brigade on the right, Law's, to begin the attack, 
the other commands successively taking it up to the left. It was 
nearly five o'clock in the afternoon when Hood's division advanced. 
Crossing the Emmettsburg Road and the open ground to the east 
of it, the division moved rapidly forward, under a heavy artillery 
fire, into the woods which here fringe the base of Devil's Den. The 
centre of the advance pushed straight for the summit on Devil's 
Den occupied by Smith's battery. General Hood falling severely 
wounded almost immediately after the action had begun, General 
Law succeeded him in command. 

Law extended his own brigade well over to the right, to render 
this flank secure, and soon appeared in front of Round Top. Robert- 
son's brigade found itself opposed to Ward's brigade, the extreme 
left of Sickles's line, strongly posted among the rocks of Devil's 
Den. Here ensued a desperate contest, which was at first favorable 
to the Federals, and Robertson was driven back. Law's movement 
to the right, up the slope of Round Top, had left an interval between 
his own brigade and that of Robertson's, so Benning's brigade had 
been brought up and occupied it. Law's brigade, with which were 
two of Robertson's regiments of Texans, which in the forward move- 
ment had become separated from their own brigade, having now a 
clear field as they supposed, swarmed up the northern slopes of Round 
Top, and then, making a partial change of front to the left, advanced 
to capture Little Round Top, which appeared to be unoccupied. 
These troops were, however, met by a murderous fire on the right 
flank, which compelled them to fall back and conform to the general 
line of advance. 

This check to the enemy's confident advance on Little Round Top 
was administered by Vincent's brigade, of the Fifth Corps, which 


had most opportunely taken position along the southern slope of 
Little Round Top. 

When General Meade, upon reaching the field, fully realized the 
state of affairs, he had instructed Warren, who was among the officers 
who had accompanied him to the front, to ride at once to Little 
Round Top, see what troops, if any, were there, and to take every 
measure necessary for its proper defence. Officers were, at the same 
time, sent to hasten the march of the Fifth Corps, and with orders 
to the Sixth Corps, also on the march. Warren hastened away, and 
after riding along and examining the positions along Devil's Den 
Ridge, continued on to Little Round Top, which he found occupied 
by only two or three men of the signal corps. Warren saw at a 
glance that this, the key of the whole position of the army, without 
the possession of which the line of Cemetery Ridge would be unten- 
able, must be occupied and held at all hazards. Looking westward 
toward the Emmettsburg Road, he could discern the long lines of 
Confederate infantry, greatly overlapping the Federal left, about to 
advance in line of battle. He despatched a messenger to General 
Meade, explaining the critical nature of the position, and asking for 
a division to hold it. General Meade, realizing the urgency of the 
situation, and fearful, although the Fifth Corps was momentarily 
expected, that it might not arrive in time to meet it, despatched an 
officer to Humphreys, who was close by, ordering him to move his 
division quickly to the endangered point. When General Humphreys 
received this order his division, with colors flying, was marching in 
line of battle from the intermediate position, in which he had been 
stationed for some hours, toward the advanced position on the Em- 
mettsburg Road which Sickles had ordered him to occupy. Without 
halt he gave the order to move by the left flank in the direction of 
Little Round Top. He had, however, marched but a very short dis- 
tance in that direction when he received word from General Meade, 
who had in the meantime been notified that reinforcements from the 
Fifth Corps had reached Round Top, countermanding the movement, 
and directing him to resume his march to the position assigned him 
by Sickles, on the Emmettsburg Road. Instantly, again without 
halting, the division about-faced and retraced its steps over the ground 
which it had just passed, and then, moving by the left flank, marched 
to the Emmettsburg Road. The whole movement was so admirably 
executed as to elicit praise from all who witnessed the promptness 
and skill of the gallant commander, and the steady bearing of the 


troops, who, although subjected to an annoying artillery fire, moved 
with the precision of parade. 

Humphreys now formed his division along the Emmettsburg Road, 
Carr's brigade being in the front line, connecting on his left with 
Graham, his right being near the Rogers house, 1 with Brewster in his 
rear. Seeley's battery was posted on his left, to the left of the Smith 
house, 1 and Turnbull's battery, from the Artillery Reserve, to the right 
of the house. Seeley and Turnbull were no sooner posted than they 
became engaged with the enemy's artillery opposite to them along 
Seminary Ridge. Gibbon at the same time sent to Humphreys's 
right two regiments from Harrow's brigade, which were posted near 
the Codori house, 1 along the Emmettsburg Road, and also moved 
forward Brown's battery, to the right and rear of these regiments, 
in the endeavor to protect this flank. 

Warren, either while on his way to Round Top or after having 
been there and gone in search of reinforcements, met Sykes, who had 
preceded the advance of his corps from the right and had explained 
to him the importance of having troops at once on Round Top. The 
head of Barnes's division of the corps soon appearing, Sykes had 
detached Vincent's brigade from that division, to march at once for 
the point. Vincent, leaving the column, and passing around the 
eastern foot of Little Round Top, and then into the gorge between 
the Round Tops, suddenly appeared on the southern slope of Little 
Round Top just as Law's men were advancing up it. 

Warren, on the summit of Little Round Top, alone with the signal 
men, could hear and see the battle raging at the Peach Orchard and 
along Devil's Den Ridge. He noticed the bullets beginning to strike 
near him, and beyond all else of interest saw, amid the eddying whirl 
of conflict, the general steady approach of the Confederate line. Ob- 
serving a column of troops passing along the northern foot of Little 
Round Top, with a final word of encouragement to the signal men 
to remain and continue to wave their flag, so as to persuade the enemy 
of the presence of troops there, he dashes away in the hope of obtain- 
ing succor. He comes up with the rear of Weed's brigade, of Ayres's 
division of the Fifth Corps, on its way to the front. He explains in 
a few rapid words to Colonel O'Rorke, commanding the One Hundred 
and Fortieth New York, one of the regiments of this brigade, the 
urgent necessity of the case. O'Rorke without hesitation moves up 
the rear of the hill. Warren, riding on to the head of the brigade, 

1 Not shown on map. 


and halting it, sends to Weed, and explains to him also the situation. 
Weed countermarches, and, following O'Rorke, quickly moves with 
Hazlett's battery and the rest of the brigade toward the summit of 
Little Round Top. O'Rorke is just in time; a desperate hand-to- 
hand conflict takes place on the very crest of the hill. The Con- 
federates are hurled back, and Little Round Top is secured; not, 
however, without severe loss to the defenders, for O'Rorke and many 
officers and men of his regiment have been killed. 

Vincent also, on the left of O'Rorke, had been engaged in a deadly 
struggle. The right of his line, a little in advance of Little Round 
Top, not being well protected, was at first driven back, until the 
arrival of O'Rorke checked the enemy. On Vincent's left the fighting 
had been at close quarters. Repeated charges and counter-charges 
had been made by the contending sides, but finally the enemy had 
been compelled to retire, and Vincent had firmly established his line 
across the space intervening between the Round Tops and up the 
southern slope of Little Round Top, connecting on his right with 
Weed's brigade, the troops of which were now all up and occupying 
the crest of the hill. Repeated efforts were made by the enemy to 
carry this important point, without avail, and he was finally obliged 
to draw off. 

In this bloody struggle Vincent was mortally wounded, and Weed 
and Hazlett, with many other brave and valuable officers, were killed. 
Warren, who had remained at this point until its possession was se- 
cure, was slightly wounded. 

Ward's brigade and Smith's battery, in its precarious position 
on the rocky summit of Devil's Den, together with De Trobriand's 
brigade on their right, supported by various regiments of Burling's 
brigade, sent by Humphreys to reinforce Birney, have done desper- 
ate fighting and thus far held their ground. Anderson, on the Con- 
federate side, has been brought up on Robertson's left; he again and 
again assaults De Trobriand, but is repulsed with severe loss, Ander- 
son himself being desperately wounded. The arrival of Benning, 
however, has enabled Robertson's men to reform, and the whole line 
again advancing, Ward and De Trobriand are gradually forced back, 
some guns (three in number) of Smith's battery falling, as Hunt had 
predicted, into the hands of the enemy. Tilton's and Sweitzer's 
brigades, of Barnes's division of the Fifth Corps, have been placed 
by Sykes in support of Birney's line. These brigades have advanced 
across the Wheat Field and relieved Birney's troops. 


On the Confederate side McLaws's division has, in its turn, taken 
up the attack. Kershaw's brigade has moved out, followed by 
Semmes, exposed to the heavy fire of McGilvery's guns. He has di- 
rected his column to the heights held by Tilton and Sweitzer, although 
he has had to detach some of his regiments to attend to the Federal 
batteries posted along the Peach Orchard road. Barksdale has made 
a determined assault on Graham, at the angle at the Peach Orchard. 
The contest has been fierce and stubborn all along the line, but the 
angle has been broken in, Graham's brigade routed, Graham himself 
being wounded and a prisoner, the enemy is advancing, and the 
Third Corps, notwithstanding its heroic fight and stubborn resistance, 
is being swept from the field. The batteries on the Peach Orchard 
crest are, now that the angle is broken in, taken in flank and forced 
to withdraw. A brief stand is made, some two hundred and fifty 
yards to the rear. Officers, men, and horses fall by the score. The 
enemy presses on and all the batteries, except Bigelow's, are with- 
drawn further to the rear; guns are abandoned on the field, from 
sheer inability to get them away on account of loss in men and horses, 
many being drawn off by hand. 

Bigelow's Ninth Massachusetts Battery makes a final stand near 
the Trostle house, 1 with prolonges fixed, desperately cut up, ordered 
by McGilvery to hold the ground at all hazards, so as to cover the 
retreat of the troops to another line. Sweeping the ground to the 
front, he retards the advance of the enemy, while a line of artillery, 
hastily collected by McGilvery from the serviceable batteries, rein- 
forced by Dow's Maine battery, from the reserve, is formed in front 
of the woods east of Plum Run. Unsupported by infantry, this line, 
consisting of about twenty-five pieces all told, checks the pursuit, 
covers the abandoned guns, and supports the movement of Hum- 
phreys in retreat on the right. This being accomplished, scarcely 
anything remains of the devoted artillerists in the front, who have 
rendered it possible to form a second line, and have saved the Union 
front from being seriously broken. 

Out of the complement of the battery one officer was killed, one 
mortally wounded, Bigelow also wounded; two sergeants were killed 
and four wounded, and two men were missing; the whole loss of the 
battery from the beginning to the end of the afternoon being twenty- 
eight men and eighty horses. Yet, despite this severe loss, the ar- 
tillerists managed to drag two of their guns off the field. 

1 Not shown on map. 


It has long before this time become evident to General Meade, 
who has remained in the vicinity of the Third Corps, that Sickles 
will be forced back. He has already ordered Hancock to send a divi- 
sion to report to Sykes. Hancock sends Caldwell, who promptly 
moves with his four brigades and reaches the field after Birney's 
division has been driven back, and just as Sweitzer and Til ton are 
being overwhelmed and pressed to the rear. Caldwell's leading bri- 
gade, Cross's, is formed on the edge of the Wheat Field, and Kelly's 
brigade coming up on his right, together they charge through it 
under a severe fire. A fierce fight ensues, Colonel Cross is killed, 
and, notwithstanding the heroic behavior of the troops, they are 
brought to a stand. Brooke and Zook are now put in, Brooke fol- 
lowing the previous direction of Cross's regiments and relieving them, 
and then gallantly charging, driving before him Semmes's brigade, 
which has come up on Kershaw's right; Semmes is killed, and the 
ridge is once more in possession of the Federals. Zook's troops come 
up on the right, Zook himself has been killed, and Brooke takes com- 
mand of the whole line. Everything else, however, is gone, and 
alone he is fiercely assailed, front, right, and left, and the line of 
his retreat threatened. At the same time Wofford's brigade, which, 
following Barksdale, has passed his right and is closing in on that 
flank, makes, in concert with the rest of the Confederate line, a de- 
termined onslaught on Brooke. Finding himself entirely unsupported, 
Brooke, skilfully handling his men to the last, relinquishes his ground, 
although stubbornly fighting step by step in retreat, and gradually 
falls back across Plum Run. Farther to the left, Ayres, who with 
his two brigades of regulars has advanced in front of Little Round 
Top, covering the valley between that point and Devil's Den, is also, 
after severe loss, compelled to fall back. The repeatedly contested 
ground is covered with thousands of the dead and wounded of both 

Farther to the right, on the extreme right of the Third Corps, 
Humphreys has as yet maintained his position, but now that the angle 
at the Peach Orchard is lost, and all support on his left gone, he 
finds himself assaulted on this flank by Barksdale. General Sickles 
has been wounded and General Birney commands the corps. Birney 
sends word to Humphreys, to retire the left of his line toward Little 
Round Top to connect with a new line to be formed in that direc- 
tion. Humphreys having, as noted, nothing to support his left, is 
now, in beginning this manoeuvre, attacked on his front and right 


by Hill's troops, who have advanced to assist Longstreet's assault. 
Humphreys is loath to yield the ground, but he is compelled by orders 
and necessity to fall back. Slowly and sullenly his men retire, as- 
sailed on both flanks and in front. The two regiments of Harrow's 
brigade, sent by Gibbon to the Rogers house 1 to protect Humphreys's 
right, are also overpowered and driven back, each of them losing its 
commanding officer and many of its men. The entire advanced line 
has now recoiled before the enemy. 

The Confederates, fiercely following up their success, advance 
their whole line. The Federal true left, at Little Round Top, has, 
however, been by this time made secure, and a new line, departing 
from that point, has been formed on the eastern side of Plum Run. 
Crawford's division of the Pennsylvania Reserves, of the Fifth Corps, 
has come up, Fisher's brigade being sent to the extreme left, on Round 
Top, and McCandless's, under the immediate direction of Crawford, 
charges down the slope of Little Round Top and across the open 
space to the eastern edge of the Wheat Field, just as the Confed- 
erates, exhausted by their long and continuous fighting, retire from 
the advanced position gained by them to the western side of the 
Wheat Field. 

At this time the Sixth Corps, after its memorable march of 
thirty-four miles, appears on the field, and Sedgwick promptly moves 
to the support of the left centre. Nevins's brigade, of Wheaton's 
division, being on the lead, forms line on the right of Crawford's 
Pennsylvania Reserves, and takes part in their advance, driving back 
the enemy and recovering some of the abandoned guns. To the 
right of this point is the formidable line of artillery established by 
McGilvery of some twenty-five guns, gathered from all quarters and 
massed on the east side of Plum Run, whose fire does great execu- 
tion among the troops assaulting Humphreys in his retreat. 

There is still, however, an open space between the extreme right 
of the left wing and Hancock's left. General Meade, after having 
seen the new line firmly established along Plum Run Ridge, rides 
along this open part of the field. He has already sent to Slocum, on 
the extreme right, directing him to send a division to the left. In 
the meantime he orders Hancock to send another brigade to the as- 
sistance of the Third Corps, and shortly after the wounding of Sickles 
instructs him to assume command of that corps. Hancock orders 
up Willard's brigade, of Hays's division, and, personally leading it 

1 Not shown on map. 


out beyond McGilvery's guns, places it in position. Willard almost 
immediately comes into action with Barksdale, whom nothing here- 
tofore has seemed able to stop, but who is finally brought to a stand. 
A fierce combat at close quarters ensues; Willard and many of his 
men are killed, but the further advance of the enemy on this part 
of the field is stayed. Barksdale also has fallen at the head of his 

The Twenty-first Mississippi, of Barksdale's brigade, was the only 
Confederate regiment that succeeded in crossing Plum Run. This 
regiment had become separated from the brigade as it closed in on 
Humphreys, and had taken part in the attack on Bigelow's battery. 
As the remnants of that battery were being withdrawn from the field, 
the regiment pressed closely after them, crossed Plum Run, and 
charged and captured Watson's battery, the left battery of the new 
line that McGilvery had formed. The regiment was, however, only 
able to hold it for a short time, for Lieutenant Peeples of the bat- 
tery placed himself at the head of the Thirty-ninth New York, one 
of Willard's regiments which had been left in reserve, charged and 
recovered it. 

Slocum, in obedience to General Meade's call for reinforcement, 
takes Ruger's division and Lockwood's brigade out of his line and 
sends them, under command of General A. S. Williams, over to the 
left. Williams promptly moves over by the most direct route, and 
as his leading brigade, Lockwood's, of only two regiments comes on 
the field it is quickly posted, General Meade himself riding at its 
head and moving forward with it through and beyond McGilvery's 
guns. This small brigade charges the enemy, driving him back and 
recovering several guns that had been abandoned for want of suffi- 
cient force to carry them off the field. 

Hancock, after seeing Willard well engaged, rides farther to the 
right, when he suddenly perceives a force of the enemy making its 
way unopposed to gain the crest of Cemetery Ridge. This is Wilcox's 
brigade of Anderson's division, which, after having assisted in driv- 
ing Humphreys back, is now triumphantly making for the ridge. 
Hancock, prompt to recognize the situation, calls upon the First 
Minnesota, one of his own regiments, which is just coming up, and 
orders it to charge the advancing brigade. Gallantly responding, 
the regiment hurls itself on the approaching column and, although 
with fearful loss of officers and men, wins the ground. 

Yet there still remains the gap in the line to the left of the Sec- 


ond Corps. Gibbon, temporarily in command of the corps, has 
moved Harrow's brigade to his left, slightly bent to the rear, in order 
to protect this exposed flank and cover this ground originally held 
by Caldwell. General Meade has been nearly continuously on the 
field, making the most strenuous exertions for establishing the line, 
in person bringing up and placing reinforcements, exposing himself 
in the reckless manner dictated by the emergency, during which he 
has his faithful old horse Baldy shot under him. He is now return- 
ing from head-quarters, to which he has been for a brief period, and 
while there having ordered Newton to bring up Robinson and Double- 
day quickly to occupy the gap in the line to the left of the Second 
Corps. For a few minutes affairs seem critical in the extreme. The 
Confederates appear determined to carry everything before them. 
A vigorous attack is made by them at various points along the whole 
front. Gibbon's line becomes heavily engaged along his whole front, 
while on his left, as we know, there is the space still unoccupied. 

At this gap, waiting for the coming of Newton, surrounded only 
by a few of his aides and orderlies, stands Meade. The crash of 
musketry and the shouts of the contending troops resound on all 
sides, and the air seems filled with shot and shell. At this moment 
Meade sees at a short distance off a line of the enemy making straight 
for the gap. Will nothing stop these people? He glances anxiously 
in the direction of the cemetery, whence succor should come. It 
will be a disaster unless something can stop these troops, if only for 
a brief space of time. The general realizes the situation but too 
well. He straightens himself in his stirrups, as do also the aides who 
now ride closer to him, bracing themselves up to meet the crisis. It is 
in the minds of those who follow him that he is going to throw him- 
self into the breach — anything to gain a few moments' time. Sud- 
denly some one cries out, "There they come, general!" and, looking 
to the right, Newton is seen galloping in advance of Doubleday's 
division, followed by Robinson. In close column by division, at a 
sharp double quick, with muskets at a right shoulder, the two divi- 
sions sweep down the Taneytown Road, swing around to the right, 
and as, amid the wildest excitement and shouting, they press forward 
to the line of battle, Meade rides ahead with the skirmish line, wav- 
ing his hat, saying to those about him, "Come on, gentlemen," and 
some one remarking that it seemed at one time pretty desperate, it 
is pleasant to hear him reply in his hearty way: "Yes, but it is all 
right now, it is all right now." 


A sharp fusillade follows. The Confederates, exhausted by their 
long, brave, and fruitless struggle for the mastery, are unable to make 
head against these fresh troops. The Federal lines advance, the 
enemy is driven back across the Emmettsburg Road, all the guns 
that have been abandoned are recovered, and as darkness comes 
over the scene the musketry firing gradually dies away. 

It was, as we now know, General Lee's intention to make a si- 
multaneous attack on both flanks of the Union army. Instructions 
had been sent to Ewell to have his command in readiness to advance 
when he heard Longstreet's guns open for his assault on the Union 
left wing and flank, making thus in his favor a diversion which was 
to be converted, if opportunity should offer, into a real attack. In 
conformity with this plan Johnson had been placed on the extreme 
left of the Confederate force, facing Culp's Hill to the west, and a 
number of guns had been placed on Benner's Hill, the only available 
place for artillery on the direction of the Confederate lines there. 
At about four o'clock in the afternoon, when Longstreet's artillery 
was for the first time heard on the Confederate extreme left, the ar- 
tillery opened there and continued to fire for over an hour. It was so 
effectively replied to by the Federal batteries on Cemetery Hill that 
by the end of this time it was silenced and forced to take cover, 
after having suffered great loss in men, horses, and in many pieces 

It was not until nearly sunset that Johnson advanced to the at- 
tack of the Federal right. The ground over which he must pass is 
very difficult, heavily wooded, and covered with rocks and bowlders. 
Over this the division, formed with Jones's brigade on the right, 
Williams's next on his left, Steuart's next on his left, and Walker's 
concluding the left of the line of attack, moved forward to the as- 
sault. They had not proceeded very far, however, when active dem- 
onstrations on the part of Gregg's cavalry, covering the right flank 
of the Army of the Potomac, compelled the halting and detachment 
of Walker's brigade to look to the safety of the assaulting columns, 
through which necessity that brigade became neutralized for the 

It will be remembered that during the height of the battle on the 
left Slocum had sent Ruger's division and Lockwood's brigade, under 
A. S. Williams, from his right over to support the left, and that Lock- 
wood's brigade had rendered efficient service in aiding in the final 
repulse of the enemy. Ruger's division, as their services proved not 


to be needed, had only crossed the Taneytown Road when they were 

Shortly after these troops moved out Slocum had ordered Geary, 
with two brigades, to follow Williams, leaving his Third Brigade, 
Greene's, to hold the right flank. Geary, for some unaccountable 
reason, instead of proceeding on the direct road to the left wing, fol- 
lowing Williams in the direction of the firing, had crossed Rock Creek 
and marched down the Baltimore Pike. Fortunately he was halted 
before going very far, remaining where he was for the night. 

On Greene principally, who held the line of works centring at 
Culp's Hill, the left of the line of the Twelfth Corps, connecting on 
his left with Wadsworth's division of the First Corps, had devolved 
the arduous task of guarding the right flank of the army. How ad- 
mirably this duty was performed the sequel will show. When the 
position was first occupied by the Twelfth Corps, quite a substantial 
line of breastworks had been erected. These works were now about 
to prove of great value. Greene was ordered to occupy, with his one 
remaining brigade, the whole of the works previously occupied by 
the entire Twelfth Corps. He had scarcely extended his lines so as 
to cover the vacated position of Kane's brigade, which had been on 
his right, when the attack of the enemy on him began. As soon as 
it began he sent to Howard and Wadsworth for reinforcements. 

Johnson, moving forward with his three brigades, marched down 
the slopes of the hill which he had occupied to the bed of Rock Creek, 
driving before him the Federal skirmishers, and at about seven o'clock 
in the evening charged the position of Culp's Hill. Between this 
time and nine o'clock determined assaults continued to be made, every 
one of which was gallantly met and repulsed with heavy loss to the 
assailants, inflicted by the troops of Greene and those of the First 
Corps, occupying the northeastern line of Culp's Hill on his left. 
Jones on the right, Williams in the centre, were each time driven 
back, leaving many dead and wounded to mark their line of advance. 
General J. M. Jones was severely wounded in one of these repulses. 

Steuart, on the left of the assaulting columns, met with more 
success than these. Concealed and sheltered by woods and rocks, 
and under cover of night, he worked his way around to his left until 
he chanced upon the unoccupied works of Williams's division, which 
at the point where Steuart struck them were perpendicular to the 
general line. This success seriously menaced for a time the integrity 
of the right flank of the Federal line. It was, however, reversed by 


General Greene, who, handling his small command with great skill, 
swung his right regiment to the rear, and presenting a firm front to 
Steuart, prevented him from making any further advance. About 
ten o'clock at night Kane's brigade returned and took position on the 
right, further strengthening this flank. 

Howard and Wadsworth had promptly responded to Greene's 
call for reinforcements, each of them sending three regiments. These 
rendered valuable aid in repulsing the assaults described, and in re- 
lieving those regiments of Greene's whose ammunition had become 
exhausted. When the fighting closed, Greene held intact all the 
works of his own brigade, and with Kane's returned brigade, had oc- 
cupied a new line on his right, perpendicular to his main line, and 
parallel to the breastworks taken and held by Steuart's troops. 

As soon as Johnson had become fully engaged, just before dusk, 
Early, who with his division was occupying the line between Johnson 
and the town of Gettysburg, opposite Cemetery Hill, ordered Hays's 
and Avery's brigades to advance and carry the works on Cemetery 
Hill. Gordon's brigade was moved forward to support these two 
brigades. Smith's brigade of this division was still detached, on the 
left of the Confederate army. Hays and Avery, exposed to a heavy 
fire from the batteries on Cemetery Hill, advanced in splendid order, 
passed over the ridge in their immediate front, across a hollow be- 
tween that and Cemetery Hill, and finally up the slope of Cemetery 
Hill, easily brushing aside the troops of Ames's division of the Elev- 
enth Corps, and after surmounting all difficulties, reached the crest 
of the hill, and in an instant were in among the guns of Wiederich's 
battery, spiking the left section of Ricketts's battery, on Wiederich's 
right. A fierce hand-to-hand fight here took place, the officers and 
men of the batteries, using handspikes, rammers, pistols, and even 
stones, succeeding at last in checking the enemy sufficiently long to 
enable reinforcements to come to the rescue. Colonel Avery, com- 
manding one of the Confederate brigades, was mortally wounded in 
this assault. 

The reinforcements which so opportunely arrived were Carroll's 
brigade of the Second Corps, which had been sent by Hancock to 
report to Howard. As the firing died away on Hancock's front, and 
as he was riding to the right of his command on the Taneytown Road, 
he caught the sound of continuously heavy firing on Cemetery Hill, 
seeming to him to be coming nearer and nearer. Without hesitation, 
without waiting for instructions, he at once ordered Gibbon to send 


Carroll's brigade over to the right, to report to Howard. Carroll had 
promptly drawn out from the line, and moving by the right, on the 
double-quick, had soon, as narrated, covered the rear of the captured 
position on Cemetery Hill. Although it was quite dark, and difficult 
to distinguish friend from foe, he had, without loss of time, formed 
his command in column of regiments, charged on the victorious enemy, 
and after a sharp struggle, had driven back and down the hill the 
brigades of Hays and Avery, had retaken the captured guns, and 
advancing to the stone wall at the foot of the hill, had reformed the 
broken lines. General Meade's attention also had been attracted by 
this firing. Receiving word from Howard of the approaching attack 
on the right, and of the need of reinforcements, he ordered Newton 
to send Robinson's division at once back to the cemetery. He him- 
self rode rapidly over there, and was on McKnight's Hill * at the 
time of the attack, sending a message to the troops engaged on Ceme- 
tery Hill to hold fast, that reinforcements would soon be there. Rob- 
inson's division shortly afterward filed through the cemetery to the 
Baltimore Pike, beyond which the contest had been raging; but Car- 
roll's men had already done the work required. 

This closed the fighting for the day, for although it had been ar- 
ranged that Rodes's division, posted in the town of Gettysburg, on 
the right of Early, should co-operate in the assault, by the time he 
had drawn his troops out of the town, had formed them, and was 
ready to advance, Early had already assaulted and been repulsed 
from Cemetery Hill. By that time it was so late that it was not 
deemed advisable to continue the action, and Rodes's troops were 

When it was found that the services of Ruger's division were not 
needed on the left, Williams had ordered it to return, as quickly as 
possible, to the right and reoccupy the line they had vacated. It 
was about dusk when Ruger received this order and moved over. 
On crossing the Baltimore Pike and entering the woods to gain his 
old line, his skirmish line that Ruger had sent out well in advance 
to reconnoitre, fearing that the enemy may have crept in during his 
absence, were fired upon and driven back. It was then discovered 
by Ruger that all that part of the breastworks on the left of his orig- 
inal position were in possession of the enemy, as also were those far- 
ther to his left that had been occupied by Geary. That part of the 
breastworks on the right and extending to Rock Creek were still un- 

1 Not shown on map. 


occupied. These he at once took possession of. Owing to the dark- 
ness and the difficult character of the ground, it was deemed too late 
to attempt to drive the enemy out that night. Ruger then placed 
his division along a slight crest to the east of the Baltimore Pike, so 
as to prevent the enemy making any farther advance toward the 
turnpike. It was after midnight before these arrangements were 
completed. About one o'clock next morning, Candy's brigade of 
Geary's division returned and took position on the right of Kane's 
brigade, which, it will be remembered, had already returned and been 
posted in support of Greene's right; the line as here formed extended 
perpendicularly almost to the Baltimore Pike, at which point Candy's 
right rested. 

To bring the history of the movements of both armies down to 
midnight of July 2 it will be necessary to return to Stuart's Cavalry, 
which, in obedience to Lee's orders to join the main army, retiring on 
the evening of July 1 from in front of Carlisle, continued their move- 
ment toward Gettysburg. On the receipt of Lee's orders, Stuart had 
despatched word back to Hampton, whose brigade had not yet come 
up, to turn his command southward and proceed ten miles in the 
direction of Gettysburg. This order met Hampton at Dillsburg. 
Having covered the allotted distance, he halted for the night. On 
the morning of the next day, July 2, he continued on to Hunters- 
town, and was moving thence toward Gettysburg, to take position 
on the left of Lee's army, when he learned of the approach of a body 
of Federal cavalry moving on Hunterstown, and was directed by 
Stuart to return and meet it. It proved to be Kilpatrick's division 
of cavalry, which having, on the morning of July 2, returned from 
Abbottstown to the right flank of the army, had been again sent out 
in the direction of Hunterstown to endeavor to get in the rear of 
Lee's army and damage his trains. Custer's brigade, in the advance, 
came in contact with Hampton, and quite a sharp fight between the 
two followed, lasting well into dark. Judging from the official reports 
of the action, it would seem that both sides claimed the advantage 
in the engagement. However that may be, Kilpatrick was ordered 
during the night to return to Two Taverns, which place he reached 
at daylight of July 3, Hampton remaining at Hunterstown during the 
night. Toward the afternoon of July 2, Stuart, with Fitz Lee's and 
Chambliss's brigades, took position on the extreme left flank of the 
Army of Northern Virginia. 

Gregg's division of Federal cavalry, moving on the Hanover Road 


toward Gettysburg, in the afternoon of the 2d of July, threatened to 
such good effect, as we have seen, the left flank of Ewell's corps, about 
to attack Culp's Hill, as to cause the detachment of Walker's bri- 
gade from the attacking column to keep him in check. During the 
night Gregg moved across to the Baltimore Pike, and took position 
on that road, at its junction with the Road. Merritt's bri- 
gade of regular cavalry moved during the 2d of July from Mechan- 
icsville to Emmettsburg. 

Robertson's and Jones's brigades of cavalry, which had been left 
by Lee south of the Potomac, had, in default of the presence of Stu- 
art's Cavalry, been ordered to the front by Lee, on the 1st of July, 
and were now on their way up the Cumberland Valley, as by the 
3d of July they had reached Cashtown. Imboden's brigade of cav- 
alry was advancing from Chambersburg to Gettysburg. Thus by 
the night of July 2 the whole of the available Federal and Confed- 
erate cavalry had either closed in or was closing in on Gettysburg, 
the major portion of each being actually on the field. 

When the action finally ceased, and comparative quiet reigned, 
General Meade summoned his corps commanders to head-quarters, 
in order to obtain from them information as to the condition of their 
respective commands, and to confer with them as to what action, if 
any, should be taken on the following day. 

It was after nine o'clock before the corps commanders had assem- 
bled in the one little room which had served the original occupants 
of the house for all purposes of living. Here, in these close quarters, 
were a bed, a table, and a few chairs and other appurtenances, on 
which sat or reclined, as convenience dictated as most restful, Gen- 
erals Sedgwick, Slocum, Hancock, Howard, Sykes, Newton, Birney, 
A. S. Williams, and Gibbon. As officer after officer arrived, each 
in turn reported what had taken place on his immediate front during 
the day, and the extent of his losses so far as they could be obtained. 
The result of the day's fighting having been thus ascertained, a gen- 
eral conversation ensued, in which the position of the army, the 
probability of an attempt on the part of General Lee to make a 
flank movement around its left, and the dispositions which, in that 
event, should be made, were thoroughly discussed. The conversa- 
tion had taken a very wide range, and continued for a long time, when 
General Meade finally summarized the points to be decided and sub- 
mitted them in the form of a series of questions. These were as to 
whether or not, under the existing circumstances, it would be more 


advisable for the army to remain in the position which it then held 
or to retire to one nearer its base. Again, if it were decided to main- 
tain its position, should the army attack, or should it await the at- 
tack of the enemy. And, in the latter event, for how long should the 
army await the enemy's attack. Commencing with General Gibbon, 
the youngest in rank, each officer replied in succession. It was the 
unanimous opinion that the army should maintain the position then 
held and await further attack before assuming the offensive. This 
opinion agreed entirely with General Meade's own views as to the 
proper course to adopt. He did not take a prominent part in the 
discussion. He had clearly stated what his instructions had been 
and the conclusion to be drawn from the results of the day's fighting. 
He had from the first felt that the enemy would again attack. In 
consequence of this, and while the conference was still progressing, 
he sent the following despatch to General Halleck, which clearly 
shows what he had resolved to do: 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, July 2, 1863, 11 p. m. 
General Halleck: 

The enemy attacked me about 4 p. M. this day, and after one of 
the severest contests of the war, was repulsed at all points. We have 
suffered considerably in killed and wounded; among the former are 
Brigadier General Paul Zook, and among the wounded, Generals 
Sickles, Barlow, Graham, and Warren slightly. We have taken a 
large number of prisoners. I shall remain in my present position 
to-morrow, but am not prepared to say, until better advised of the 
condition of the army, whether my operations will be of an offensive 
or defensive character. 

George G. Meade, 

Major General. 

The confidence of all as to the ability of the army to hold its 
position against any direct attack of the enemy was manifest. There 
was universal satisfaction when, at the close of the vote in favor of 
the army's maintaining its position, General Meade said quietly, 
though decidedly: "Such then is the decision." It was after mid- 
night before the conference broke up and the officers departed for 
their several head-quarters. As they were leaving, General Meade 
had a few moments' conversation with General Gibbon. During 
the course of their remarks reference was made to the majority of 


the officers present having voted in favor of acting on the defensive 
and awaiting the action of General Lee. General Meade said : " Gib- 
bon, if Lee attacks me to-morrow it will be on your front." Gibbon 
expressed surprise and asked why he thought so. "Because," re- 
plied General Meade, " he has tried my left and failed, and has tried 
my right and failed; now, if he concludes to try it again, he will 
try the centre, right on your front." To this Gibbon promptly re- 
sponded, "Well, general, I hope he does, and if he does, we shall 
whip him." 



When Slocum and Williams, after the meeting of corps com- 
manders had broken up, had returned, after midnight, to their re- 
spective commands on the right, they learned for the first time of 
the enemy's occupation of the Twelfth Corps's vacated lines. Slo- 
cum at once notified General Meade of the facts, when he was ordered 
to dislodge the enemy in the morning. Orders for an attack at day- 
break, to regain the lost portions of the lines, were then issued. 

On the southern slope of Culp's Hill, nearly at right angles to 
Rock Creek, is a narrow swale running from Rock Creek, about the 
middle of which a sharp indentation pierces the hill, forming to the 
eastward of it a well-defined spur of the hill. The crest of this spur 
had been, until the evening of the second day's battle, occupied by 
Ruger's troops, his left joining Geary's right on the main hill, and 
his line extending in a semicircle around and over the swale, until 
his right rested on Rock Creek, the swale penetrating his line from 
the rear. The enemy having, upon the withdrawal of Ruger's troops 
for reinforcement of the left wing, occupied the position on the spur, 
the morning of the 3d of July dawned upon an entirely different dis- 
position of the troops on this part of the field. Geary's line, which 
had been along the main hill in the direction of the prolongation of 
the spur, was now extended and sharply refused on the ridge west of 
the indentation on the hill, while Ruger's troops, consisting as before 
of McDougall's and Colgrove's brigades, had formed in the order 
named, from left to right, a line slightly concave to the enemy's 
position, entirely south of the swale, with their left resting almost on 
the Baltimore Pike and their right on Rock Creek. 1 Lieutenant 
Muhlenberg, chief of artillery of the Twelfth Corps, stationed his own 
and Lieutenant Kinzie's batteries, supported by Lockwood's bri- 
gade, southwest of the Baltimore Pike, commanding the enemy's 
position, the low ground in the descent of the swale to Rock Creek, 
and enfilading for some distance the line of the bed of the creek. To 
the southeast of these two batteries were posted, on Powers's Hill, 
J See Map No. 19, July 3, 4.30 A. m. 


Knapp's battery, under Lieutenant Atwell, and on McAllister's Hill, 1 
Lieutenant Winegar's battery, both facing north, thus making a 
cross-fire at right angles with the line of fire of the two other batteries, 
and commanding, across the swale previously described, those por- 
tions of the Twelfth Corps's lines held by the enemy. These two 
hills, Powers's and McAllister's, 1 are marked tops lying side by side, 
just west of Rock Creek, about a quarter of a mile distant from each 
other and about two-thirds of a mile from the enemy's position. 
To guard against any movement of flanking by the enemy, Neill's 
brigade, of the Sixth Corps, which had been sent by General Meade 
to Powers's Hill on the previous evening, was thrown across Rock 
Creek, on the prolongation of Ruger's line. 

The enemy during this time was not idle. Ewell had reported his 
success to Lee, and the latter, encouraged by his view of the result 
of the day's operations, had determined to continue his efforts to 
carry the position of the Army of the Potomac. Ewell was, there- 
fore, ordered to resume at daylight the attack from Johnson's front, 
and was given to understand that a simultaneous attack would be 
made by Longstreet on the right wing. Now that Stuart had come 
up with his cavalry, Walker's brigade, which had been protecting 
Johnson's left flank, became available for his operations and was re- 
turned to him, and Daniels's and O'Neal's brigades, of Rodes's divi- 
sion, were brought over from their position in the town of Gettysburg 
to strengthen him, as was also Smith's brigade, of Early's division, 
for the same purpose. 

It is desirable now to glance at the general position of both armies 
in order to note changes that have taken place consequent upon the 
battle of the previous day. 

On the Federal side, on the extreme right, the Twelfth Corps has 
resumed its position, except where the enemy partially occupies its 
former lines. On its left Wadsworth's division, of the First Corps, 
still holds its line around Culp's Hill. On Wadsworth's left is Car- 
roll's brigade, of the Second Corps, holding the stone wall at the foot 
of Cemetery Hill, so gallantly recovered by it from the enemy on the 
previous evening. The troops of Ames's division, of the Eleventh 
Corps, are distributed on Carroll's right and left. To the left, again, 
are Schurz's and Steinwehr's divisions, of the Eleventh Corps, in their 
original positions around Cemetery Hill, resting their left on the 

1 McAllister's Hill is one-quarter mile northeast of Powers's Hill; name not 
shown on map. 


Taney town Road. Hancock, with Hays's and Gibbon's divisions, 
of the Second Corps, continues the original line along Cemetery 
Ridge. But where Caldwell's division of this corps stood the day 
before we now find Newton, with Doubleday's division, of the First 
Corps. On the left of Newton, continuing the direct line toward 
the Round Tops, comes McGilvery's artillery of thirty-nine guns, 
his line having been moved back from the position of the evening 
before, on Plum Run Ridge, whence he had helped to stem the ad- 
vancing tide of the Confederates. Caldwell's division, of the Second 
Corps, was posted in rear of McGilvery's guns. Next in order came 
Torbert's brigade, of Wright's division of the Sixth Corps, which, 
at Newton's request, Sedgwick had just sent to strengthen this part 
of the line. On the left of this brigade is the Fifth Corps, with Bart- 
lett's brigade, of the Sixth Corps, posted between the divisions of 
Barnes and Ayres, continuing the line on to Round Top. In advance 
of these, McCandless's brigade of Pennsylvania reserves, of the Fifth 
Corps, and Nevin's brigade, of the Sixth Corps, still hold the ground 
to the Wheat Field. On the extreme left, with its right on Big Round 
Top, its line facing south, at right angles to the general position of 
the army, posted athwart, and guarding the approaches to the rear 
by the Taneytown Road, is Wright, with Grant's and Russell's bri- 
gades, of the Sixth Corps. The other two brigades of the Sixth 
Corps, Shaler's and Eustis's, were in reserve on the left. Robinson's 
division, of the First Corps, is in reserve on the right, back of Cem- 
etery Hill, ready, if needed, to support the Twelfth Corps on its 
front. What remains of the Third Corps is held in reserve near the 
left centre. 

Gregg's and Kilpatrick's divisions of the cavalry are on the ex- 
treme right flank of the army, the former on the Baltimore Pike, at 
the crossing of White Run, the latter at Two Taverns. 

The corps of the Confederate army held the same positions rela- 
tively to each other as on the preceding day. Longstreet was on the 
right flank, with McLaws's and Hood's divisions, the latter now un- 
der Law, holding the advanced ground at the Peach Orchard and 
toward Devil's Den, from which they had driven Sickles. Pickett's 
division of this corps had come up during the previous afternoon, 
and was now bivouacked in the rear of the Confederate right cen- 
tre preparatory to taking its place for its ever-memorable assault. 
A. P. Hill's corps holds the centre and Ewell's the same position 
as before, on the left. 


Stuart, with Hampton's, Fitzhugh Lee's, Chambliss's, and Jen- 
kins's brigades of cavalry, was moving out to the left; Robinson's and 
Jones's brigades of cavalry were moving toward Gettysburg from 

As soon as it was light enough to see, or about four o'clock in the 
morning, Muhlenberg opened with his artillery and subjected the 
enemy to a damaging fire, which continued about an hour. Geary 
was then about to advance, when Johnson, who, it seems, was also 
ready to advance, made a vigorous attack all along his line. Its 
force fell chiefly on Greene's and Kane's brigades, whom Steuart furi- 
ously attacked, and was repulsed with great loss to the enemy. Lock- 
wood's brigade was then brought Up and reinforced Greene's lines. 
Johnson's right, to which point Daniels's brigade was directed as a 
support to Jones, found the position on its front so strong that no 
serious attempt was made to assault it. In front of Geary, however, 
where the enemy thought that opportunity offered to make a lodg- 
ment, the fight continued for hours. Steuart and Walker again and 
again assaulted, but were always repulsed with heavy loss. The 
breastworks on the Federal side so well protected the men that 
their loss was comparatively slight. 

About eight o'clock General Meade sent Shaler's brigade, of the 
Sixth Corps, to the support of the Twelfth Corps. Shaler, coming 
promptly on the field, relieved the regiments of Kane's brigade, and 
Walker being forced to retire, General Johnson ordered Daniels over 
from his right. Daniels, Steuart, and O'Neal then again assaulted, 
their men coming up to within a short distance of the breastworks. 

The regiments of Candy's brigade moved to the rear of Greene, 
having relieved his tired men, and the enemy was again driven back. 
Although persistently maintaining the attack, and in the effort sac- 
rificing many men, Johnson had not been able to gain a foot of 
ground. Ruger pushed out into the woods some of the regiments of 
McDougall's brigade, on his left, taking the enemy in flank as he 
advanced, inflicting heavy loss on him, and materially assisting in 
repelling the assault. 

About ten o'clock Ruger received orders to try the enemy, with 
two of his regiments, on the right of the line of breastworks to the 
left of the swale, and if practicable to force him out. Through an 
unfortunate mistake in transmitting orders, it was attempted to carry 
the position with these two regiments without first feeling the strength 
of the enemy. In consequence, the two regiments selected, the 


Second Massachusetts and the Twenty-seventh Indiana, crossing the 
swale on their front under a murderous fire, their officers leading and 
cheering on the men, charged up the slope to the breastworks. Their 
ranks, however, before reaching there, had been so thinned by the 
sweeping fire of the enemy, Daniels's brigade, occupying the elevated 
and strong position on the spur of the hill, that it was impossible to 
dislodge him, and the two regiments, after having sustained enor- 
mous losses in officers and men, were ordered to retire. Colonel 
Mudge, of the Second Massachusetts, was killed in this charge. 

In the meantime, upon Ruger's advancing the left of McDougall's 
brigade, it found the enemy had withdrawn from the stone wall on 
the summit; this they at once occupied. Geary and Ruger then 
pushed forward their whole line and forced the enemy out of the 
breastworks to the eastward. The Twelfth Corps now reoccupied 
and re-established their old line, the enemy retiring from under fire 
to Rock Creek. 

Soon after Johnson's attack had begun, General Ewell had heard 
not only that Longstreet's attack on the left wing of the Federal 
army had not taken place, but that it would not take place for several 
hours. It was then, however, too late to recall Johnson, and his as- 
sault was allowed to proceed. Ewell now concluded that, as it had 
proved impossible to carry the strong position in his front, while, 
with no diversion in his favor, the enemy was at liberty to concen- 
trate against him, he must desist from the attempt. Moreover, the 
Federal cavalry was now engaged in making strong demonstrations 
on his left, and already he had been obliged to detach Smith's bri- 
gade and one of Walker's regiments to oppose this advance. It was 
for these to him apparently good and sufficient reasons that Ewell 
then ordered the discontinuance of the attack from his front. 1 

During the morning, while the attack just described was in prog- 
ress, General Meade remained on the far right of the line, occasion- 
ally riding to various parts of the field, re-forming the troops and 
strengthening their positions. It was about this time that he took 

1 This is as far as Colonel Meade had prepared his account of the battle of 
Gettysburg at the time of his death, and the narrative which follows, of the sub- 
sequent events of the battle, has been written by the editor. The testimony 
of General Meade given before the congressional committee on the conduct of 
the war, the official records of the Union and Confederate armies, and the private 
correspondence of Colonel Meade with various officers present at the battle are 
the main sources from which the editor has drawn his information. For the use 
of the facts thus furnished the editor is alone responsible. 


the first opportunity that had offered since the beginning of the 
battle to write the following short note to Mrs. Meade: 

Head-Quarters Army of the Potomac, 

Gettysburg, 8.45 a. m., July 3, 1863. 

All well and going on well with the Army. We had a great 
fight yesterday, the enemy attacking and we completely repulsing 
them; both Armies shattered. To-day at it again, with what result 
remains to be seen. Army in fine spirits and every one determined 
to do or die. George and myself well. Reynolds killed the first 
day. No other of your friends or acquaintances hurt. 

About 9 A. M., the two following circulars were issued and for- 
warded to each corps: 

July 3, 1863, 9.15 a. m. 

The Commanding General has observed that many men when 
their commands are not actively engaged, have their arms and equip- 
ments off. He therefore directs that Corps Commanders keep their 
troops under arms and in all respects equipped to move at a mo- 
ment's notice. 

July 3, 1863. 

The Commanding General directs that Corps Commanders cause 
all their stragglers and men absent from the ranks to be sent for and 
brought up. The utmost exertion is to be made by all, and every 
man must stand to the work. 

The Ordnance officers should be required to see that all the arms 
and equipments scattered over the field are picked up and sent to the 
rear in the empty ammunition wagons. 

To General French, who had come from Harpers Ferry with 
7,000 men and who on July 1 had been halted by General Meade 
at Frederick City, Maryland, owing to the fact that he could not 
come up in time for the then expected battle, instructions were sent, 
through the chief of staff, from which the following is an extract: 
" The enemy attacked us vigorously yesterday and was repulsed on 
all sides. The conflict is apparently renewed to-day and we have re- 


tained our position. Should the result of to-day's operation cause 
the enemy to fall back towards the Potomac, which you would prob- 
ably learn by scouts and information from Hagerstown, etc., before 
you would be advised from here, he [Gen. Meade] desires that you 
will re-occupy Harpers Ferry and annoy and harass him [the enemy] 
in his retreat. It may be possible for you now to annoy and cut his 
communication with any cavalry or light marching infantry you have, 
of this you can judge. If the result of to-day's operation should be 
our discomfiture and withdrawal you are to look to Washington and 
throw your force there for its protection. You will be prepared for 
either of these contingencies should they arise." 

To General Couch, at Harrisburg, who commanded the Volunteer 
force, which had been collected for the defence of that place, the fol- 
lowing despatch was also sent from head-quarters: "I presume you 
are advised of condition of affairs here by copies of my dispatches 
to the General-in-Chief. The result of my operation may be the 
withdrawal of the rebel army. The sound of my guns for these three 
days, it is taken for granted is all the additional order or notice you 
need to come on. Should the enemy withdraw, by prompt co-opera- 
tion we might destroy him. Should he overpower me, your return 
and defence of Harrisburg and the Susquehanna is not at all en- 

By ten o'clock in the morning of the 3d it could be plainly seen, 
from the Union lines, that the enemy were massing their artillery 
along Seminary Ridge from the town of Gettysburg to the Peach 
Orchard. To meet this move General Hunt, chief of artillery, placed 
in position along Cemetery Ridge all the batteries that the ground 
could hold, and, beginning on the right, instructed the chiefs of ar- 
tillery and battery commanders to withhold their fire for fifteen or 
twenty minutes after the enemy had commenced, and then to con- 
centrate with all possible accuracy on those batteries which were 
causing the greatest damage and to fire slowly, so that when the 
emeny's ammunition was exhausted their own would still be suffi- 
cient to meet the anticipated assault. 

General Meade discussed with General Hancock the probabil- 
ity of an attack by the enemy on the centre of the Union line, and 
decided, in the event of such an attack being made and repulsed, to 
advance the Fifth and Sixth Corps against the enemy's flank. 

After the affair on the right of the line had been settled, General 
Meade returned to his head-quarters, and, at the urgent solicitation 


of General Gibbon, visited the latter's head-quarters in the field just 
south of his own, where he partook of a hasty breakfast. 

Immediately afterward he visited General Hay's division and then 
rode down the line to Round Top, stopping on the way at Generals 
Newton's and Sedgwick's head-quarters. From Little Round Top, 
in company with General Warren, he examined the enemy's lines and 
observed their long line of batteries and the massing of their troops, 
sure indications of the attack that\ was to follow. He immediately 
after returned to his own head-quarters. 

Every movement that the enemy might make had been consid- 
ered, every contingency anticipated and prepared for. Thus it has 
been seen that the independent forces at Frederick City, Maryland, 
and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, under General French and General 
Couch, respectively, which were to act in conjunction with the Army 
of the Potomac, had been advised of the condition of affairs, and in- 
structed how to act. The Union lines had been inspected, the positions 
strengthened, and circulars containing instructions for getting the 
troops well in hand sent to the various corps commanders. Instruc- 
tions had also been given on the previous day, through the chief of 
staff, to obtain information in regard to the roads and country to the 
rear, so that the army could be moved quickly in case it was ma- 
noeuvred out of its position by a flank movement of the enemy. Such a 
flank movement of the enemy to their right toward the Potomac, it 
may be remarked in passing, was the one Longstreet had actually ad- 
vised Lee to make, and the one that Meade afterward said was sound 
military sense and the step he at the time feared Lee would take. It 
has also been seen that on the previous night, in conversation with 
General Gibbon at the close of the meeting of the corps commanders, 
General Meade expressed the opinion that if Lee attacked him to- 
morrow, he (Lee) would try the centre. During the morning he had 
seen the movements of the artillery along Seminary Ridge, and at 
noon he had seen from Little Round Top the massing of the enemy's 
forces opposite the centre of his line. 

The two armies at this time, 1 p. m., held the same position as in 
the early morning, excepting as follows: 1 On the Confederate side, 
Pickett had moved up under cover of the ridge that extends along 
the Emmettsburg Pike, and the artillery had been concentrated along 
Seminary Ridge about the centre of the Confederate line. On the 
Union side, part of the Twelfth Corps, on the right, after the repulse 
of Johnson, reoccupied their original position as on the day be- 
J See Map No. 20, July 3, 1 p. m. 


fore, and the artillery had been placed in position along Cemetery 

About one o'clock, just after General Meade had returned to his 
head-quarters from Little Round Top, the enemy opened fire along 
their whole front with all the artillery which they had concentrated 
along Seminary Ridge. The Federal artillery withheld its fire for 
a few minutes until it was able to locate the position of the enemy's 
batteries, and then replied with every gun which could be brought 
to bear from Cemetery Ridge. This cannonade lasted almost two 
hours. The enemy's fire was directed mainly at the left centre of 
the Union line. The intensity and fierceness of the cannonade, the 
hail of shot and bursting shell which swept and tore along Cemetery 
Ridge proper, and the damage done thereby beggar description; 
while even back of the ridge in the rear, where the reserves were 
posted, immense havoc was wrought by that portion of the enemy's 
fire which was high and had cleared the crest. Here it was that 
the little farm-house, General Meade's head-quarters, just under 
the crest of the ridge, and in 1 rear of the left centre, the point at 
which the enemy's fire was directed, received too its share of de- 
struction. One shell burst in the yard among the staff horses 
tied to the fence, another tore up the steps of the house, another 
carried away the supports of the porch, one passed through the door, 
another through the garret, and a solid shot barely grazing the com- 
manding general as he stood in the open door-way, buried itself in a 
box by the door at his side. 

The little building was so exposed that it was deemed best to 
avoid, if possible, the needless danger from flying splinters of wood 
or falling timber, and accordingly the general and his staff withdrew 
to the fenced yard in the immediate rear, where the work of direct- 
ing the battle was resumed. At this juncture an amusing incident 
occurred, typical of the lighter vein which often comes to brave 
men in battle. During this rain of Confederate shell, and while 
Meade, deep in thought, was walking calmly up and down this 
little backyard between the house and the Taneytown Road, he 
chanced to notice that some of his staff, during the enforced in- 
activity while awaiting the pleasure of their general, were gradu- 
ally, and probably unconsciously, edging around to the lee side of 
the house. "Gentlemen," he said, stopping and smiling pleasantly, 
" are you trying to find a safe place? You remind me of the man who 
drove the ox-team which took ammunition for the heavy guns on to 


the field of Palo Alto. Finding himself within range, he tilted up 
his cart and got behind it. Just then General Taylor came along, 
and seeing this attempt at shelter, shouted, ' You damned fool, don't 
you know you are no safer there than anywhere else?' The driver 
replied, 'I don't suppose I am, general, but it kind o' feels so."' 

During all the time of the cannonade orders were being sent from 
head-quarters to take troops from every part of the line from which 
they could be spared and to place them in reserve for the support 
of that part of the line which the enemy's artillery fire indicated was 
about to be assaulted. 

A staff-officer was sent to General Slocum, who commanded the 
extreme right of the line, with a message directing him to make 
his line as thin as possible and to send all the troops he could 
possibly spare to reinforce and strengthen that part of the line ex- 
tending to the left of Cemetery Hill. Robinson's division of the 
First Corps, which had been held in reserve behind Cemetery Hill, 
was moved into the line on the right of the Second Corps. Shaler's 
brigade of the Sixth Corps, which had been moved in the morning 
to the support of the Twelfth Corps, was returned to the rear and 
left of the Second Corps, and held in reserve. Sherrill's brigade of 
the Second Corps, which was being held in reserve, was thrown for- 
ward into the line of the Second Corps. Two brigades of the First 
Division of the Third Corps, which were held in reserve on the left 
of the line, were moved to the right, and held in reserve in the rear 
of the left of the Second Corps. Three brigades of Humphreys's 
division of the Third Corps were moved over from the left into the 
line in reserve on the left of the First Corps. Eustis's brigade of the 
Third Division of the Sixth Corps, which formed part of the line at 
the foot of Little Round Top, was moved to the rear of the Second 
Corps, in reserve. Russell's brigade of the Sixth Corps was moved 
from the extreme left to the rear of the Fifth Corps, in reserve. 
Bartlett, with two brigades of the Sixth Corps which formed part 
of the line of the Fifth Corps, was thrown forward to the Wheat 

The firing being still unabated and it being evident that no staff- 
officer could reach head-quarters from any of the corps commanders, 
it was deemed advisable to retire to a point where communication 
between it and corps commanders could be had with greater certainty, 
and accordingly it was moved to a barn several hundred yards down 
the Taneytown Road. While here, one of the enemy's shells ex- 


ploded, a fragment of which struck General Butterfield, the chief of 
staff, who immediately left the field and did not return that day. 

General Meade and staff remained at this point a short time, and 
then removed to General Slocum's head-quarters on Powers Hill. 

When the cannonade had continued for over an hour, and General 
Meade had become fully satisfied of its object, he directed the artil- 
lery to cease firing, not only in order to save its ammunition but 
also at the same time to make the enemy believe that they had 
silenced his guns and so lure them on to the assault. 

Meanwhile, before this order had reached them, General Hunt, 
chief of artillery, had himself given orders to cease firing. It is nec- 
essary to go back somewhat to explain how Hunt came to give these 

It will be recalled that at 10 A. M., before the Confederate batteries 
had opened, General Hunt, starting on the right of the Union artil- 
lery, had given orders to withhold its fire for fifteen or twenty minutes 
after the enemy had commenced. He had just given his orders to 
the last battery on Little Round Top, when the enemy opened with 
all his guns. Hunt then rode to the artillery reserve to order fresh 
batteries and ammunition to be sent up to the ridge as soon as the 
enemy's cannonade should cease. He then returned to the ridge and 
inspected the batteries. The fire had been steady and deliberate, and 
had lasted for a long time, and when, on inspecting the chests, he 
found that the ammunition was running low, he hastened to General 
Meade to advise its immediate cessation and to make preparation 
for the assault which he also believed would certainly follow. Arriv- 
ing at the old head-quarters, he found them abandoned and was told 
that General Meade had gone to Cemetery Hill, but being unable 
to locate him there, he at once rode back along the ridge, himself 
ordering the firing to cease. He then went to meet the fresh bat- 
teries which he had ordered up, and, encountering Major Bingham, 
of Hancock's staff, was informed that General Meade's aides were 
seeking him with orders to "cease firing," which, as we have seen, 
he had anticipated. 

Shortly after the Federal artillery slackened its fire, the enemy 
ceased firing, and then at about 3 p. m. began the memorable assault, 
"Pickett's charge." The attacking force, its front extending over 
a mile, consisted of about eighteen thousand men, and was com- 
posed of Pickett's division of Longstreet's corps and various bri- 
gades from Pender's, Heth's, and Anderson's divisions of Hill's 


corps. It was directed against the left centre of the Union line, 
the centre striking the Second Division on the left of the line of the 
Second Corps. ' 

Just as this attack was commencing, after he had made all his 
arrangements for the disposition of the troops to reinforce the line 
for the anticipated attack, and while he was on Powers Hill or just 
started on his way to the front to assume immediate command, 
if necessary, General Meade was told by Captain Dewey, who had 
been sent by General Hays, that the enemy were advancing in great 
force, He at once despatched two staff-officers to the left of the 
line to hurry those brigades of the Sixth Corps which had already 
been ordered up, and then, going straight to the front, arrived on the 
crest at the point where the enemy were making their attack, and 
rode among the batteries and troops encouraging the men by his 
voice and presence. He remained on the ridge throughout the 
attack, and until the enemy was repulsed. The reinforcements 
which had been concentrated were thrown in along the line as they 
were needed, and after a terrible and protracted struggle, culminating 
in a bloody hand-to-hand encounter, the enemy was repulsed and 
driven back with heavy loss in killed, wounded, and prisoners. Dur- 
ing this fight General Hancock, commanding the left centre of the 
line, was severely wounded and taken off the field, as was also Gen- 
eral Gibbon, commanding the Second Corps. 

Meanwhile, during the time of Lee's assault, General Gregg 
had won an extremely important cavalry engagement with General 
Stuart on the right of the Union line of battle. While Stuart was 
proceeding toward the Baltimore Pike, where he hoped to create a 
diversion in aid of the Confederate infantry, and, in case of Pickett's 
success, to fall upon the retreating Federal troops, he encountered 
Gregg, who was guarding the right flank of the Federal army, and 
was well out in the path of Stuart's movement. The contest was 
fast and furious, with the result that Stuart was compelled to fall 

Immediately after the repulse of Pickett's assault General Meade 
rode over to Cemetery Hill to see the state of affairs. On his way 
back at what is called Ziegler's Grove, a point on the line between 
the Second and Eleventh Corps, the soldiers and officers commenced 
to cheer him and made such a demonstration that he crossed over 
the line of battle, and accompanied by his staff and a large crowd of 
mounted officers who had gathered about him, rode down in front of 


the Union line all the way to Round Top. Every man on the Union 
line mounted the breastworks, and it was one continuous ovation 
the whole way down, and, strange to say, not a shot was fired by the 
enemy, although the cavalcade was in easy range. 

It is quite imperative to call attention here to the great loss to 
the commanding general in the death of Reynolds on the first day, 
and the wounding of Hancock on the third. These two generals had 
no equals in the Army of the Potomac, and their loss could not be 
repaired. They were soldiers of marked ability, and, thoroughly un- 
derstanding the temperament of their troops, could perform prodi- 
gies of war when the occasion demanded. They were quick to see 
and report the situation of the moment, and being in perfect sym- 
pathy and accord with General Meade, and having his full confidence, 
their loss greatly hampered the subsequent movements of the army 
and the execution of his intentions and plans. 

General Meade's purpose in going to the left of the line to Round 
Top, as he explained in his testimony given before the congressional 
committee on the conduct of the war, nine months after the battle, 
was as follows: "As soon as the assault was repulsed, I went imme- 
diately to the extreme left of my line, with the determination of ad- 
vancing the left, and making an assault upon the enemy's lines. So 
soon as I arrived at the left I gave the necessary orders for the pickets 
and skirmishers in front to be thrown forward to feel the enemy, and 
for all preparations to be made for the assault. The great length of 
the line, and the time required to carry these orders out to the front, 
and the movement subsequently made, before the report given to 
me of the condition of the forces in the front and left, caused it to 
be so late in the evening as to induce me to abandon the assault 
which I had contemplated." 

The length of time required to carry and execute the orders as 
above referred to was probably due to the fact that the brigades 
of the various corps had become more or less separated and the 
men had become utterly worn out and exhausted. 

The Fifth and Sixth Corps were on the left of the Union line, and 
about the time of the repulse of Pickett's assault their brigades occu- 
pied the following positions: 

The Fifth Corps held the Round Tops. The First Brigade of 
the First Division was on Big Round Top, extending toward Little 
Round Top. The Third Brigade of the Third Division was on Little 
Round Top, on the right of the First Brigade of the First Division. 


The Third Brigade of the Second Division was on the north slope 
of Little Round Top, on the right of the Third Brigade of the Third 
Division. To the right of the Third Brigade of the Second Division 
came a brigade of the Sixth Corps, and to the right of it was the 
Second Brigade of the First Division of the Fifth Corps. The First 
and Second Brigades of the Second Division of the Fifth Corps were 
in the rear of Little Round Top, in reserve. The Third Brigade of 
the First Division was in the rear of the right of the Fifth Corps, in 
reserve. The First Brigade of the Third Division was out in front, 
toward the Peach Orchard. 

The Sixth Corps was theoretically in reserve, but, like many of 
the corps in the line, its brigades occupied various positions on the 
field. The Second Brigade of the Second Division held the extreme 
left of the Union line from Big Round Top to the Taney town Road. 
The First Brigade of the First Division was on the line between the 
the Third Brigade of the Second Division and the Second Brigade of 
the First Division of the Fifth Corps. The Third Brigade of the 
First Division was on the Taneytown Road in rear of the Fifth Corps, 
in reserve. The Second Brigade of the First Division and the Third 
Brigade of the Third Division were out in front of the Wheat Field. 
The First and Second Brigades of the Third Division were in the 
rear of the Second Corps, in reserve. The Third Brigade of the Second 
Division was on the extreme right of the Union line on Rock Creek. 

This separation of the brigades was due to the numerous move- 
ments of the troops during the battle. Many of the troops had been 
moved from one part of the line to another, having been put in action 
in two different parts of the line on the same day. This handling of 
the troops brought forth from those present the admiring comment 
that such tactics had never before been seen in the Army of the 

Notwithstanding the fact that the contemplated assault had been 
abandoned on account of darkness, the pickets and skirmishers con- 
tinued their advance, but soon found that the enemy was in force. 

At 8.35 P. M. on the evening of the 3d, General Meade sent his 
report to Major-General Halleck, at Washington, from which the 
following is an extract: 

"After the repelling of the assault, indications leading to the 
belief that the enemy might be withdrawing, an armed reconnois- 
sance was pushed forward from the left, and the enemy found to be 
in force. At the present hour all is quiet. My cavalry have been 


engaged all day on both flanks of the enemy, harassing and vigor- 
ously attacking with great success, notwithstanding they encoun- 
tered superior numbers both of cavalry and infantry." 

The "armed reconnoissance "above referred to on the left of the 
Federal line had effectually demonstrated the fact that the enemy 
were not only far from demoralized, but were, in fact, in strong force, 
and had not yet decided to give up the field. General Meade did 
not believe that Lee would attack him again, but was as yet uncer- 
tain whether he (Lee) would assume a defensive attitude and await 
an attack from him, or whether he would withdraw down the Cum- 
berland Valley, holding strongly the mountain passes which he 
(Meade) understood had been fortified. 

As the old head-quarters house, which had been abandoned dur- 
ing the cannonade in the afternoon, was now being used as a field 
hospital, General Meade and staff moved down the Taneytown Road 
about a quarter of a mile and slept among the rocks in the open. 
Toward two or three o'clock in the morning it commenced to rain 
violently and continued all day. 


At daybreak on the morning of July 4, the reports that came 
in showed that the enemy had disappeared from the front of the ex- 
treme right of the line, but that he still was in force on the left and 
left centre. General Slocum, in command of the right, was immedi- 
ately directed to advance his corps, and ascertain the position of the 
enemy. Likewise, General Howard, in the centre, was directed to 
push into Gettysburg to see whether the enemy still occupied the 

At the first sign of the enemy's withdrawal and before anything 
definite was known of their intention, the following order was sent 
to General French at Frederick City in order to gain time in case 
the enemy were actually withdrawing: 

"The Major General Commanding directs that you proceed im- 
mediately, and seize and hold the South Mountain passes with such 
forces as in your judgment are proper and sufficient to prevent the 
enemy's seizing them to cover his retreat. With the balance of 
your force re-occupy Maryland Heights and operate upon the con- 
tingency expressed yesterday in regards to the retreat of the enemy. 
General Buford will probably pass through South Mountain tomor- 
row p. M. from this side." 

At 5 a. M. after the enemy retired from the town of Gettysburg, 
General Barlow, who had been wounded in the first day's fight and 
left in the town, and whose opportunities for judging were considered 
of the best, sent word to General Meade that he believed their with- 
drawal was nothing more than a feint. 

At 7 a. m. the following despatch was sent to Major-General 
Halleck, at Washington: 

"This morning the enemy has withdrawn his pickets from the 
positions of yesterday. My own pickets are moving out to ascer- 
tain the nature and extent of the enemy's movement. My informa- 



tion is not sufficient for me to decide its character yet, whether a re- 
treat or manoeuvre for other purposes." 

At 8.30 A. M. the following despatch was sent Major-General 
Couch, at Harrisburg: 

"The enemy has withdrawn from his positions occupied for at- 
tack. I am not yet sufficiently informed of the nature of his move- 
ment. He was repulsed yesterday in his attack upon me. You will, 
therefore, be governed by the instructions heretofore sent you. Until 
I get further information I cannot decide as to the character of the 
movement or the enemy's intentions." 

After General Slocum and General Howard had pushed forward 
their lines to ascertain the position and intention of the enemy, they 
reported that he had retired from the circular position which he had 
occupied around the right of the Army of the Potomac, and had 
taken up a position about parallel to the left and left centre of 
the Union line. It now appearing that the enemy was not re- 
treating, General Meade sent the following to General French at 
10.20 a.m.: 

"More recent developments indicate that the enemy may have 
retired to take a new position and await an attack from us. The 
General countermands his dispatch requiring you to re-occupy Mary- 
land Heights and seize the South Mountain passes, resuming the in- 
structions contained in the dispatch of July 3rd, making your move- 
ments contingent upon those of the enemy." 

At this juncture, in order to learn the condition and position of 
the troops after the past three days' hard fighting and manoeuvring, 
and to get them in shape for subsequent movements, circulars were 
sent to all the corps commanders directing them as follows: 

July 4, 1863. 

Corps Commanders will report the present position of the troops 
under their command in their immediate front — location, etc., amount 
of supplies on hand and condition. The intention of the Major 
General Commanding is not to make any present move, but to refit 
and rest for to-day. The opportunity must be made use of to get 
the commands well in hand, and ready for such duties as the General 
may direct. The lines as held are not to be changed without orders; 
the skirmishers simply being advanced according to instructions given 
to find and report the position and lines of the enemy. 


July 4, 1863. 

Corps commanders will retain their men in camp and hold their 
present lines ready for any movement. The movement of skirmishers 
to the front is not intended to change the positions or less vigilance 
of the troops. 

July 4, 1863. 

General Head-Quarters, until further orders, are established on 
the Baltimore pike, about a mile below the point occupied by Maj. 
Gen. Slocum, during the recent engagement, as his Head-Quarters. 
Corps Commanders will send an orderly with the bearer of this cir- 
cular to acquaint himself with the exact location of Head-Quarters. 

July 4, 1863. 

Corps Commanders will at once call upon their regimental com- 
manders for a statement of the colors that have been taken from the 
enemy in front of Gettysburg, and all such colors will be sent to these 
Head-Quarters, as required by existing orders. If any colors have 
been sent to the rear or otherwise passed out of the possession of 
regimental commanders, such commanders will be called on for an 
immediate explanation of their disobedience of orders, and they will 
take immediate measures to have the colors returned to their cus- 
tody and sent to these Head-Quarters. 

July 4, 1863. 

Corps Commanders will detail burial parties to bury all the ene- 
my's dead in the vicinity of their lines. Correct accounts of the 
numbers buried will be kept, and returns made through Corps Head- 
Quarters to the Asst. Adj't Gen'l. The arms, accoutrements, etc., 
will all be collected and turned over to the Ordnance officers. Re- 
ports of the number and kind of each picked up will be reported to 
these Head-Quarters. 

July 4, 1863. 

A return of the small arm ammunition on hand per man in each 
Corps is required. As the number of rounds of artillery ammunition 


per gun. Corps Commanders will make their return without delay. 
Corps commanders will cause their Ordnance officers to gather the 
ammunition from the wounded and killed and replenish their sup- 
plies therewith. 

At 12 n. General Meade again reported to Major-General Halleck: 

"The position of affairs is not materially changed from my last 
dispatch 7 a. m. The enemy apparently has thrown back his left, 
and placed guns and troops in position in rear of Gettysburg, which 
we now hold. The enemy has abandoned large numbers of his killed 
and wounded on the field. I shall require some time to get up sup- 
plies, ammunition, etc., rest the army, worn out by long marches, 
and three days' hard fighting. I shall probably be able to give you 
a return of our captures and losses before night, and return of the 
enemy's killed and wounded in our hands." 

During portions of the day it rained very violently, so violently, 
in fact, as to interrupt any very active operations that might have 
been made if any had been designed. 

Nothing very definite having developed of the enemy's position 
and intended movements, General Meade (after a consultation with 
some of his corps commanders in the evening) directed General War- 
ren to make a reconnoissance to ascertain the intentions of the enemy, 
and also sent General Sedgwick, commanding the Sixth Corps on the 
left of the line, the following order: 

"The Major General Commanding directs that you hold your 
Corps in readiness to cover a reconnoissance by Brig. General War- 
ren, such portions of it to be used as may be necessary, the object 
of the reconnoissance being to find out the position and movement 
of the enemy. Be ready at four and a half o'clock a. m. tomorrow." 

Referring to the matter of consultations with his corps com- 
manders, General Meade, before the committee on the conduct of 
the war, testified as follows: 

" I had one on the night of the 4th of July, as to a plan of action 
in reference to pursuing the enemy. I never called those meetings 
councils; they were consultations, and they were probably more nu- 
merous and more constant in my case, from the fact that I had 
just assumed command of the army, and felt that it was due to 
myself to have the opinions of high officers before I took action on 
matters which involved such momentous issues." 

At 10 p. M., and after all arrangements had been made as far as 


possible for the day following, General Meade made a third report 
to General Halleck. s 

"No change of affairs since despatch of 12 noon. I make a re- 
connoissance tomorrow, to ascertain what the intention of the enemy 
is. My cavalry are now moving towards the South Mountain pass, 
and should the enemy retreat I shall pursue him on his flanks. A 
proposition made by Gen. Lee under flag of truce to exchange pris- 
oners, was declined by me." 

For over a year preceding the battle of Gettysburg Lee had en- 
joyed unhampered supreme command of the Army of Northern 
Virginia. At the moment of the battle he was conducting an in- 
vasion and was comparatively unrestricted as to the movements 
of his army, which was living off the country and sending home 
supplies. His troops were flushed with the pride of a successful 
campaign and confident of victory. On the other hand, Meade, 
the fifth to lead the Army of the Potomac, had been in command 
but three days before the battle. He was confronted with the 
double task of opposing the enemy and defending the capital of 
the country. His army was the only defence of the great cities of 
the North, he could look for no reinforcements, and he supposed 
his enemy to be his equal if not superior in numbers. His troops 
had confidence in themselves, but at the time he took command 
they were still laboring under the depressing effects of several de- 
feats due to poor leadership. It can be fairly assumed that the 
slightest success on the part of Lee would have been successfully 
used to obtain recognition of the Confederacy from the powers 
abroad. The issue at stake was momentous; and, as General 
Meade expressed it in his letter of June 29, " a battle will de- 
cide the fate of our country and our cause." 

General Meade testified before the congressional committee on 
the conduct of the war that his plan on the second day of the battle 
was as follows: 

" I beg leave to say, in connection with this subject of attacking or 
receiving an attack, that I do not hesitate to say that it was my policy 
and intention to act upon the defensive, and receive the attack of the 
enemy, if practicable, knowing that the enemy would be compelled 
either to attack me or to retire from his position; that it was not 
within his power to wait any length of time in my front and manoeuvre, 
and that the chances of victory on my side were greater if I acted on 
the defensive than they would be if I assumed the offensive." In 


his next letter to his wife, on the 5th of July, he writes: "They [the 
enemy] waited one day [the 4th] expecting that, flushed with suc- 
cess, I would attack them, when they would play their old game of 
shooting us from behind breastworks — a game we played this time 
to their entire satisfaction. " 

In a word, Meade's masterful and rapid advance, and the 
defensive policy which he then assumed and to which he unswerv- 
ingly adhered, gave Lee no alternative but to assume the offensive 
and overcome the Army of the Potomac, or else to retreat and admit 
himself defeated. 



At about three o'clock on the morning of July 5 the Sixth Corps, 
on the left of the line under General Sedgwick, began to break camp 
in preparation for the reconnoissance under General Warren, which 
had been arranged for on the evening before. At daylight the pick- 
ets of the Sixth Corps advanced to the front toward the right of the 
enemy's line, and on reaching the Emmettsburg Pike, found that he 
had withdrawn. 

As soon as it was light enough to distinguish objects in the dis- 
tance, reports began to come in from the signal stations along the line 
that many of the points which the day before had composed the 
enemy's front and reserve line could be distinctly seen and that there 
was no indication of the enemy anywhere except farther to the west. 
At that point could be seen quite a large body of troops apparently 
drawn up in line of battle extending from the Chambersburg Pike 
toward the Hagerstown Road. 

Scouting parties were then sent out from along the whole line, 
who soon reported that the enemy had evacuated his former position. 

Before it could be positively determined what the intentions of 
the enemy were, whether to retreat to the Potomac or simply to the 
mountains, and desirous of taking advantage of any time that might 
be gained, General Meade, through his chief of staff, at 7 A. M. sent 
to General French at Frederick City the following order: 

July 5, 1863, 7 a. m. 
Maj. Gen. French, 

The enemy appear to be in full retreat, and you can act upon 
the contingencies provided in previous dispatches. 

After the advance of the pickets and skirmishers of the Sixth 
Corps, the First Division, followed by the others, crossed the valley 
in their front, and occupying the position held by the enemy the 
day before, opened fire with their artillery upon a body of the enemy 



on their right. The latter force soon disappeared without replying, 
retreating to the rear. 

Owing to information which he had previously received that the 
passes at Fairfield and Cashtown had been fortified by the enemy, 
and were of such a character that a small force could hold a large 
body in check for a considerable time, General Meade had made up 
his mind that a more rapid movement of his army could be made 
by the flank through the Boonsboro Pass than to attempt to follow 
on the road which the enemy himself had taken. In order to be 
fully prepared to move as soon as he could determine that the enemy 
were in full retreat for the Potomac, he directed that the following 
order for the movement of the various corps by way of Middletown 
and South Mountain toward Hagerstown should be drawn up, but 
not issued : 

July 5, 1863. 

The following movements of troops are ordered: — 

The 1st, 6th, and 3d Corps by Emmettsburg direct road to Me- 
chanicstown, Lewistown, Hamburgh, to Middletown. 

The 5th and 11th Corps by the left hand Taney town road through 
Emmettsburg, Cregerstown, Utica, High Knob Pass, to Middletown. 

The 12th and 2d Corps via Taney town, Middleburg, and Woods- 
borough, through Frederick, to Middletown. 

The trains will move with their corps, those at Westminster cross- 
ing to Middletown via Frederick. The Artillery Reserve follow via 
Taneytown and Middleburg. Head-Quarters will be at Cregerstown 
to-night. The army will assemble at Middletown p. M. of the 7th 

Head-Quarters train will move at once. All trains not filled with 
ammunition and supplies will be sent to Frederick. The Commis- 
sary and Quartermaster depots and supplies at Westminster will be 
transferred to Frederick. 

The Commandant of the Cavalry Corps will detail a regiment to 
report to the Provost Marshal General, for the temporary duty of 
driving up all stragglers, and collecting all captured property, arms, 
ammunition, etc., on the recent battle field. 

The Medical Director will establish a General Hospital at Gettys- 
burg for the wounded that cannot be moved with the army. 

For the movement, and until the concentration at Middletown, 


General Sedgwick will, without relinquishing command of his Corps, 
assume command and direct the movements of the Corps forming 
the right — 1st, 6th, and 3d. 

General Slocum will, without relinquishing command of his Corps, 
assume command and direct the movements of the Corps forming 
the left, 12th and 2d. 

General Howard will, without relinquishing the command of his 
Corps, assume command and direct the movements of the Corps 
forming the centre, 5th and 11th. 

Staff officers will be sent to report at Head-Quarters each night 
on all marches. 

The Battalion of Regular Engineers and other Troops at West- 
minster will proceed to Middletown via Frederick. 

By command of Major General Meade, 

(Sd.) S. Williams, 
Asst. Adjt. General. 

Addenda to Order of March of July 5th, 1863. 

The Artillery Reserve will accompany the 2d and 12th Corps, and 
will be assigned by Major General Slocum to an appropriate place in 
the column. 

From the reports of his officers General Meade was now thor- 
oughly convinced that the enemy was actually retiring. He believed 
that he was passing into the Cumberland Valley but did not feel 
certain that he was in full retreat for the Potomac or sure of what 
his future movements would be. Nor was he entirely aware of the 
extent of the injury he had inflicted upon him at Gettysburg though 
satisfied that he had been severely punished. Accordingly he di- 
rected General Sedgwick, in the following order, to advance along 
the Hagerstown Road and to pursue him with vigor, and at the 
same time dispatched a cavalry force to follow the column that was 
retreating along the Chambersburg Road. 

July 5, 1863, 12.30 p. m. 

General Sedgwick, 

All the information I can obtain proves withdrawal of enemy 
through Cashtown and Fairfield Road. Push forward your column 
in W. direction; find out his force; if rear guard it will be compelled 
to retire; if not you'll find out. Time is of great importance, as I 


can't give orders for a movement without explicit information from 
you. General Sykes will cover your withdrawal if necessary, and 
General Warren, who carries this, will read it to General Sykes. 

Early in the afternoon General Meade sent the following report 
to General Halleck: 

July 5, 1863. 

Major General Halleck, 

The enemy retired under cover of the night and heavy rain in the 
direction of Fairfield and Cashtown. All my available Cavalry are 
in pursuit on the enemy's left and rear. My movement will be made 
at once on his flank via Middletown and South Mountain Pass. I 
cannot give you the details of our capture in prisoners, colors and 
arms. Upwards of twenty battle flags will be turned in from one 
Corps. I cannot delay to pick up the debris of the battle field and 
request that all those arrangements may be made by the Depart- 
ments. My wounded, with those of the enemy in our hands, will 
be left at Gettysburg. After burying our own, I am compelled to 
employ citizens to bury the enemy's dead. My Head-Quarters will 
be to-night at Cregerstown. Communication received from Gen. 
Smith, in command of 3,000 men, on the march from Carlisle to- 
wards Cashtown. Field returns last evening give me about 55,000 
effectives in the ranks, exclusive of Cavalry, baggage guards, ambu- 
lance attendants, etc. Every available reinforcement is required 
and should be sent to Frederick without delay. 

Under date of the 4th of July Meade announced to the army in 
a general order the victory over Lee. 

Head-Quarters, Army op the Potomac, July 4, 1863. 
General Orders, No. 68. 

The Commanding General, in behalf of the country, thanks the 
Army of the Potomac for the glorious result of the recent operations. 

An enemy superior in numbers and flushed with the pride of a 
successful invasion, attempted to overcome and destroy this Army. 
Utterly baffled and defeated, he has now withdrawn from the con- 
test. The privations and fatigue the Army has endured, and the 
heroic courage and gallantry it has displayed will be matters of his- 
tory to be remembered. 

Our task is not yet accomplished, and the Commanding General 


looks to the Army for greater efforts to drive from our soil every 
vestige of the presence of the invader. 

It is right and proper that we should, on all suitable occasions, 
return our grateful thanks to the Almighty Disposer of events, that 
in the goodness of His Providence He has thought fit to give victory 
to the cause of the just. 

By command of Major General Meade. 
Official. S. Williams, 

Asst. Adjt. Gen. 

Later in the afternoon of the same day General Meade received 
a report from General Sedgwick that he was following the enemy's 
rear-guard as rapidly as he could, but that he had reason to believe, 
from reports of prisoners, that the main body of the enemy was in 
the vicinity of Fairfield Pass, and that it was not improbable that 
another engagement might be had in those mountains. Under these 
circumstances, and as a matter of security, and also being willing to 
meet such a movement on the part of the enemy, General Meade 
directed that two Corps, the Third and Fifth, be immediately moved 
in the direction of General Sedgwick, in order to assist him if he were 
attacked, or to reinforce him if he required reinforcement. After he 
had given this order he learned that the previous order, for the move- 
ment of the whole army, which he had prepared but withheld await- 
ing developments, had been issued by his chief of staff, General 
Butterfield, without his authority. Officers were immediately sent, 
who arrested the progress of the Third and First Corps, which had 
not moved very far, and detained them in case General Sedgwick 
should require support. The other corps he allowed to move on, 
knowing that they could not get very far that day, and that they 
could be recalled if the information obtained through General Sedg- 
wick's operation should require it. 

Later, at 6 p. m., the following report was sent to Major-General 

"I send copies of all my dispatches since yesterday a. m. My 
army is all in motion. I shall be at Frederick to-morrow night. I 
desire the forces mentioned in your dispatch to Gen. French to be 
thrown to Harper's Ferry by rail as soon as possible, and shall so 
instruct Gen. French. It is of importance to get possession of South 
Mountain passes and Maryland Heights." 

Meanwhile, General Sedgwick with the Sixth Corps, in accord- 


ance with the order sent him at 12.30 p. m., followed up the enemy 
along the Hagerstown Road. The First Brigade of the First Divi- 
sion was in the lead, marching in line of battle, covered by a heavy 
line of skirmishers, when, having gone about six miles and being 
about two miles from Fairfield, they came upon the rear-guard of 
the rebel army, which was posted so as to protect the passage of its 
trains. A sharp engagement ensued, resulting in the capture of about 
two hundred and fifty prisoners. 

The Sixth Corps then continued on to Fairfield, the enemy re- 
tiring before it, where they remained, while General Neill, in com- 
mand of his brigade of infantry and of Mcintosh's brigade of cav- 
alry with two pieces of light artillery and a battery of rifled pieces, 
was detached to move early the next morning to reconnoitre the 
enemy's position at the Gap. 

After this encounter General Sedgwick reported to General Meade, 
which report he received at 6 p. M., that he had come upon the enemy, 
who had made a stand in force, and that he had ascertained from 
prisoners taken that McLaws's division was bringing up the rear of 
the rebel army with Alexander's artillery immediately in his (Mc- 
Laws's) front, and that they were going to the Gap, where they in- 
tended making a stand. 

On receiving the above information, the forward movement of 
the army was arrested by the issue of the following circulars and 
orders and the army held in its then position until further informa- 
tion could be obtained as to the probability of the enemy making a 
stand in force in the mountains: 

July 5, 1863. 

The movement of troops ordered to-day and all arrangements 
dependent thereupon, are suspended until further orders. 

July 5, 1863. 

Head-Quarters will be to-night at the same place as last night, 
instead of Cregerstown. 

July 5, 1863. 

General Head-Quarters will move to-morrow at 6 A. M. precisely 
and be established at Frederick to-morrow night. 


To General Sedgwick, commanding the right wing, the following 
was sent: 

" I am directed by the Commanding General to say that, in conse- 
quence of your report of the appearance of the enemy in force in your 
front, the movement of troops ordered towards Middletown has been 
suspended, to await further information from you." 

To General Howard, commanding the centre, and General 
Slocum, commanding the left wing, the following order was sent: 

"In consequence of information received from General Sedgwick 
of the enemy in his presence, the movement ordered will be stopped 
where it is until further orders. Send a staff officer to these Head- 
Quarters to-night for orders." 

During a lull in these operations General Meade took advantage 
of the opportunity thus offered to again write to Mrs. Meade. 

Head-Quarters Army of the Potomac, 

Gettysburg, Pa., July 5, 1863. 

I hardly know when I last wrote to you, so many and such 
stirring events have occurred. I think I have written since the battle, 
but am not sure. It was a grand battle, and is in my judgment a 
most decided victory, though I did not annihilate or bag the Con- 
federate Army. This morning they retired in great haste into the 
mountains, leaving their dead unburied and their wounded on the 
field. They awaited one day, expecting that, flushed with success, 
I would attack them when they would play their old game of shoot- 
ing us from behind breastworks — a game we played this time to their 
entire satisfaction. The men behaved splendidly; I really think 
they are becoming soldiers. They endured long marches, short ra- 
tions, and stood one of the most terrific cannonadings I ever wit- 
nessed. Baldy was shot again, and I fear will not get over it. Two 
horses that George rode were killed, his own and the black mare. I 
had no time to think of either George or myself, for at one time 
things looked a little blue; but I managed to get up reinforcements 
in time to save the day. The army are in the highest spirits, and 
of course I am a great man. The most difficult part of my work is 
acting without correct information on which to predicate action. 

On the 5th Major-General Daniel Butterfield, chief of staff, was 
relieved from duty with the army and Brigadier-General Alfred 
Pleasanton, chief of cavalry, and Brigadier-General G. K. Warren, 


chief of engineers, in connection with their own duties, jointly acted 
at times as chief of staff until the night of July 8, when Major- 
General A. A. Humphreys, commanding the Second Division of the 
Third Corps, was appointed. 

On the night of July 5 the army occupied the following positions: 1 
The Sixth Corps was at Fairfield, in touch with the enemy. The 
First and Third Corps were in the vicinity of Gettysburg, in support 
of the Sixth Corps. The Fifth and Eleventh Corps were south of 
Gettysburg, also in support of the Sixth Corps. The Second Corps 
was at Two Taverns and the Twelfth Corps at Littlestown. The 
cavalry was on both flanks of the army. Buford's division was at 
Frederick City, on its way to Boonsboro Pass. Kilpatrick's division 
and one brigade of Gregg's division was at Boonsboro. Two bri- 
gades of Gregg's division were just north of Cashtown and Fayette- 
ville. The rear of the Confederate army occupied the Cashtown and 
Fairfield Passes. 

At 2 a. m., on the morning of July 6, General Meade sent the 
following to General Sedgwick: 

July 6, 1863, 2 a. m. 

Comm. Off. 6th Corps. 

After conversation with General Warren, 2 I think under exist- 
ing circumstances you had better push your reconnoissance so as to 
ascertain, if practicable, how far the enemy has retreated, and also 
the character of the Gap, and practicability of carrying the same. 
In case I should determine to advance on that line, you must be 
careful and watch your right and rear, as roads from Cashtown all 
open to the enemy to advance against you. My cavalry sent to 
Cashtown have not reported, but I have reason to believe that the 
enemy is there in force. I beg you will keep me fully advised of 
what occurs, and I desire you will report at least every two or three 
hours. Both the 1st and 3rd Corps are under your orders, and can 
be called to your support if you require them. I shall not move the 
army from its present position until I am better satisfied the enemy 
are evacuating the Cumberland Valley. 

In obedience to orders, and in spite of the fact that the morning 
was very misty and dark, rendering it impossible to obtain correct 
information of the enemy's movements, General Neill, with his com- 
mand, advanced and engaged their rear-guard. 

1 See Map No. 21, position night of July 5. 

2 General Warren had just returned from the front. 


At 8.30 A. M. General Meade received the following despatch 
from General Sedgwick: 

"Since sending my dispatch a few minutes since, upon consulta- 
tion with General Wright, who agrees with me, that considering 
everything I would strongly advise moving this Corps to Emmetts- 
burg, or on that road. This advice might be modified after hearing 
further from General Neill, but I cannot think it will change the cir- 
cumstances. Their line, General, is evidently very strong, and I 
do not like to dash my Corps against it, especially as I do not 
know what is on my right. Cashtown is in rear of us: — perhaps 
it would be well to push out a Corps for two or three miles — to 

In answer to the above General Meade immediately sent the fol- 
lowing reply at 9 a.m.: 

"Your dispatch is received, proposing to move to Emmettsburg. 
I cannot, at present, approve of the proposition. I advised you last 
night that you could call to your support Newton and Birney, who 
are under your orders. Newton reporting to me that he and Birney 
had moved under your orders on the Emmettsburg Road (and your 
dispatch saying you had not sent orders to them) I immediately di- 
rected them to halt, to report their positions to you and await your 
orders. I have also directed General Howard (who commands 5th 
and 11th Corps) to post one of his Corps at Emmettsburg, and the 
other on some road leading to Fairfield from whence it can be thrown 
up there. 

"With this disposition, viz.: three Corps under your immediate 
command, and two within support together with the fact just re- 
ported that our Cavalry have passed through Cashtown without 
opposition, and were at Caledonia Iron Works (N. W. from Fair- 
field some 11 miles) I am of the opinion that you are in a measure 
secure on your right flank and rear and therefore can examine the 

" All evidence seems to show a movement to Hagerstown and the 
Potomac. No doubt the principal force is between Fairfield and 
Hagerstown, but I apprehend they will be likely to let you alone if 
you let them alone. Let me know the result of NehTs operation, 
whether they retire before him or threaten to push him and you. 
Send out pickets well on your left flank, reconnoiter in all directions, 
and let me know the result. 

"This is all the instructions I can now give you. Whenever I am 


satisfied that the main body is retiring from the mountains I shall 
continue my flank movement. I am going to direct Couch to move 
down the Cumberland Valley, to threaten their rear." 

About noon General Meade received a report from General Sedg- 
wick saying that he had pushed the enemy's rear-guard as far as 
Fairfield Pass, which was of such a nature that a very small force 
placed there could hold him in check for a considerable length of 
time, though he could finally take it, and that, in his judgment, it 
would involve delay and waste of time to endeavor to push the 
enemy any farther on that road. 

At 2 p. m., soon after receiving the above, the following report 
was received from General Sedgwick: 

"I am satisfied that Hood's Div. with one battery hold the 
Gap to cover the trains and that Ewell's whole (Div.) is on the 
mountains. I think they will withdraw to-night. Mr. McKenzie 
will give you the result of Neill's operation. Howe has gone up with 
his whole Div. I shall hold on until further orders. I think Newton 
and Birney should be a little nearer, but I cannot believe the enemy 
will attack me and therefore do not wish to fatigue the troops by 
unnecessary marching. I have just sent in one hundred prisoners, a 
few more have since been taken. When a general movement takes 
place will you please send orders to Newton or Birney direct as I am 
so far away from them that time would be lost in communicating 
with them." 

Upon receiving the above, General Meade decided to move the 
whole army down toward Middletown, and accordingly issued the 
following order: 

July 6, 1863. 

Commanders and other Independent commands, and Chiefs of 

Staff Departments, will at once proceed to carry into effect the orders 

of march of July 5th, temporarily suspended. Head-Quarters will 

be to-night at the same place as last night and to-morrow at Frederick. 

By Command of Major General Meade, 

(Sd.) S. Williams, Asst. Adjt. Genl. 

Immediately upon the issue of this order, General Meade sent at 
2 p. m. the following report to General Halleck, at Washington: 

"Yesterday I sent General Sedgwick with the 6th Corps in 
pursuit of the enemy towards Fairfield and a brigade of cavalry 


towards Cashtown. General Sedgwick's report indicating a large 
force of the enemy in the mountains, I deemed it prudent to sus- 
pend the movement to Middletown until I could be certain the 
enemy were evacuating Cumberland Valley. I find great difficulty 
in getting reliable information, but from all I can learn I have reason 
to believe the enemy is retiring, very much crippled and hampered 
with his trains. Gen. Sedgwick reported that the Gap at Fairfield 
was very formidable and would enable a small force to hold my 
column in check for a long time. I have accordingly resumed the 
movement to Middletown, and I expect by to-morrow night to 
assemble the army in that vicinity. Supplies will be then for- 
warded, and as soon as possible I will cross South Mountain and 
proceed in search of the enemy. 

" Your dispatch requiring me to assume the general command 
of the forces in the field under Gen. Couch has been received. I 
know nothing of the position or strength of his command except the 
advance under Gen. Smith which I have ordered here and which I 
desire should furnish a necessary force to guard this place while the 
enemy is in the vicinity. A brigade of infantry and one of cavalry 
with two batteries will be left to watch the enemy at Fairfield and 
follow them whenever they vacate the Gap. I shall send general 
instructions to Gen. Couch to move down the Cumberland Valley 
as far as the enemy evacuated it and keep up communication with 
me but from all the information I can obtain I do not rely on any 
active co-operation in battle with this force. If I can get the Army 
of the Potomac in hand in the valley and the enemy have not crossed 
the river, I shall give him battle, trusting should misfortune over- 
take me, that sufficient number of my force, in connection with what 
you have in Washington, would reach that place so as to render it 

"General Trimble of the Confederate Army, was to-day found 
wounded just outside of Gettysburg. Gen. Hemper was found mor- 
tally wounded on the road to Fairfield, and a large number of wounded 
estimated at several thousand. Gens. Heth, Wade, Hampton, Jen- 
kins and Pender are reported wounded. 

" The losses of the enemy were no doubt very great, and he must 
be proportionally crippled. My Head-Quarters will be here to-night 
and to-morrow I expect to be at Frederick. My cavalry have been 
attacking the enemy on both flanks inflicting as much injury as 


At 5 p. M. a still further report was received from General Sedg- 
wick, which follows: 

"The enemy have withdrawn all but one regt. which is now re- 
tiring; — our skirmishers are following. I will move up to the Gap 
and send out a small force rapidly to observe their future movements. 
My main force I will move to the other side of Fairfield and await 

It is evident from the above despatch, which was sent by Gen- 
eral Sedgwick at 3.25 P. M., that he had not yet received the order 
to again take up the march, and accordingly the following message 
was sent him: 

"You will take every precaution to maintain the position you 
now hold till dark. You will then withdraw all the 6th Corps, ex- 
cept Gen. Neill's brigade and a rifled battery and proceed with your 
command (the 1st and 3d Corps included) to execute the order of 
march of July 5th. Gen. Neill will follow the enemy cautiously as 
he (the enemy) retires, keeping the com'dg. General constantly in- 
formed. The commander of the rifled battery will report to him. 
Col. Mcintosh with his brigade of cavalry will be directed to report 
also to Gen. Neill. Gen. Newton has been halted near Emmetts- 
burg. Gen. Birney has not moved from this place. You will issue 
orders to them to execute the order of march when you think proper. 
Gen. Meade does not think proper to do so himself, as circumstances 
may compel you to call them to your aid or to retire in some order 
that you alone can determine. Head-Quarters will be to-night the 
same place as last night." 

Some of the corps, having received, in time to start that day, the 
order to again take up the flank movement, had moved out; and on 
the night of July 6 the army occupied the following positions : * 

The First Corps was at Emmettsburg. The Second Corps was 
at Two Taverns. The Third was at Gettysburg. The Fifth be- 
tween Gettysburg and Emmettsburg. The Sixth and Eleventh also 
at Emmettsburg, and the Twelfth Corps was at Littlestown. The 
cavalry was spread out on both flanks of the army. Buford's divi- 
sion was between Boonsboro and Williamsport, with Kilpatrick's di- 
vision and one brigade of Gregg's division on its right. One brigade 
of Gregg's division was a few miles south of Chambersburg, and an- 
other brigade at Fairfield. 

The enemy were supposed to be retiring down the Cumberland 
Valley between Fairfield and Hagerstown toward the Potomac. 

1 See Map No. 22, position night of July 6. 


Let us now turn to the Confederate army to see what its actual 
position was at the close of each of the first two days of its retreat 
from the field of Gettysburg. 

On the night of July 5 — that is to say, about the same time that 
the Sixth Corps of the Army of the Potomac was at Fairfield, and 
General Sedgwick had reported that he believed the Confederates 
were going to make a stand — the whole of the Army of Northern 
Virginia was concentrated in the mountains in the vicinity of Fair- 
field. 1 Ewell with his corps of infantry occupied the passes at 
Cashtown and Fairfield. Longstreet with his whole corps was on 
Ewell's right, and Hill with his three divisions was in the rear in 
support. The cavalry under Stuart was guarding both flanks of 
the army. 

Meanwhile, it will be remembered the Army of the Potomac 
had been halted by the suspension of the order to concentrate at 
Middletown until further information could be gained as to the prob- 
ability of the enemy making a stand in force in the mountains. 

On the 6th Lee again retreated, and by night Longstreet, in the 
advance, was about to enter Hagerstown followed by Ewell at 
Waynesboro. 2 Hill, bringing up the rear, had not yet left the moun- 
tains. The cavalry continued guarding the flanks. 

The Army of the Potomac in the meantime had received the 
order to again take up the flank movement, and by the morning of 
the 7th of July the whole army was in motion. 

1 See Map No. 23, position night of July 5, No. 2. 

2 See Map No. 24, position night of July 6, No. 2. 



To Mrs. George G. Meade: 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, Frederick, July 8, 1863. 
I arrived here yesterday; the army is assembling at Middletown. 
I think we shall have another battle before Lee can cross the river, 
though from all accounts he is making great efforts to do so. For 
my part, as I have to follow and fight him, I would rather do it at 
once and in Maryland than to follow into Virginia. I received last 
evening your letters of the 3d and 5th inst., and am truly rejoiced 
that you are treated with such distinction on account of my humble 
services. I see also that the papers are making a great deal too 
much fuss about me. I claim no extraordinary merit for this last 
battle, and would prefer waiting a little while to see what my career 
is to be before making any pretensions. I did and shall continue to 
do my duty to the best of my abilities, but knowing as I do that 
battles are often decided by accidents, and that no man of sense 
will say in advance what their result will be, I wish to be careful in 
not bragging before the right time. George 1 is very well, though 
both of us are a good deal fatigued with our recent operations. From 
the time I took command till to-day, now over ten days, I have not 
changed my clothes, have not had a regular night's rest, and many 
nights not a wink of sleep, and for several days did not even wash 
my face and hands, no regular food, and all the time in a great state 
of mental anxiety. Indeed, I think I have lived as much in this 
time as in the last thirty years. Old Baldy is still living and appar- 
ently doing well; the ball passed within half an inch of my thigh, 
passed through the saddle and entered Baldy's stomach. I did not 

1 Son of General Meade. 


think he could live, but the old fellow has such a wonderful tenacity 
of life that I am in hopes he will. 

The people in this place have made a great fuss with me. A few 
moments after my arrival I was visited by a deputation of ladies, 
and showers of wreaths and bouquets presented to me, in most com- 
plimentary terms. The street has been crowded with people, star- 
ing at me, and, much to my astonishment, I find myself a lion. I 
cannot say I appreciate all this honor, because I feel certain it is 
undeserved, and would like people to wait a little while. I send 
you a document 1 received yesterday afternoon. It will give you 
pleasure I know. Preserve it, because the terms in which the Gen- 
eral in Chief speaks of the battle are stronger than any I have 
deemed it proper to use myself. I never claimed a victory, though 
I stated that Lee was defeated in his efforts to destroy my army. 
I am going to move as soon as I can get the army supplied with sub- 
sistence and ammunition. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, 

South Mountain Pass, July 10, 1863. 

I have been so busy I could not write. You must depend on 
George 2 for letters. 

Lee has not crossed and does not intend to cross the river, and I 
expect in a few days, if not sooner, again to hazard the fortune of 
war. I know so well that this is a fortune and that accidents, etc., 
turn the tide of victory, that, until the question is settled, I cannot 
but be very anxious. If it should please God again to give success 
to our efforts, then I could be more tranquil. I also see that my 
success at Gettysburg has deluded the people and the Government 
with the idea that I must always be victorious, that Lee is demoral- 
ized and disorganized, etc., and other delusions which will not only 
be dissipated by any reverse that I should meet with, but would react 
in proportion against me. I have already had a very decided corre- 
spondence with General Halleck upon this point, he pushing me on, 
and I informing him I was advancing as fast as I could. The firm 
stand I took had the result to induce General Halleck to tell me to 
act according to my judgment. 3 I am of opinion that Lee is in a 
strong position and determined to fight before he crosses the river. 

1 For document mentioned, see Appendix A. 2 Son of General Meade. 
3 For correspondence between Halleck and Meade see Appendix B. 


I believe if he had been able to cross when he first fell back, that he 
would have done so; but his bridges being destroyed, he has been 
compelled to make a stand, and will of course make a desperate 
one. The army is in fine spirits, and if I can only manage to 
keep them together, and not be required to attack a position too 
strong, I think there is a chance for me. However, it is all in God's 
hands. I make but little account of myself, and think only of the 

The telegram I sent you was because I could not write, and I 
thought it would make you easy to know we were well. George, 1 I 
suppose, has written you what a narrow escape he had. I never 
knew of it till last night. His horse was struck with a piece of shell, 
killing him, and coming so near George as to carry away a part of 
the back of his saddle. This was on the 3d, just after we had re- 
pulsed the last assault, when I rode up to the front, and George was 
the only officer with me. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, July 14, 1863. 

I found Lee in a very strong position, intrenched. I hesitated 
to attack him, without some examination of the mode of approach- 
ing him. I called my corps commanders together, and they voted 
against attacking him. This morning, when I advanced to feel his 
position and seek for a weak point, I found he had retired in the 
night and was nearly across the river. I immediately started in pur- 
suit, and my cavalry captured two thousand prisoners, two guns, 
several flags, and killed General Pettigrew. On reporting these facts 
to General Halleck, he informed me the President was very much 
dissatisfied at the escape of Lee. I immediately telegraphed I had 
done my duty to the best of my ability, and that the expressed dis- 
satisfaction of the President I considered undeserved censure, and 
asked to be immediately relieved. In reply he said it was not in- 
tended to censure me, but only to spur me on to an active pursuit, 
and that it was not deemed sufficient cause for relieving me. 2 This 
is exactly what I expected; unless I did impracticable things, fault 
would be found with me. I have ignored the senseless adulation of 
the public and press, and I am now just as indifferent to the censure 
bestowed without just cause. 

I start to-morrow to run another race with Lee. 

1 Son of General Meade. 

2 For telegram mentioned, see Appendix C. 


Headquarters Army of the Potomac, 

Berlin, Md., July 16, 1863. 

I wrote to you of the censure put on me by the President, through 
General Halleck, because I did not bag General Lee, and of the course 
I took on it. I don't know whether I informed you of Halleck's reply, 
that his telegram was not intended as a censure, but merely "to 
spur me on to an active pursuit," which I consider more offensive 
than the original message; for no man who does his duty, and all 
that he can do, as I maintain I have done, needs sparring. It is 
only the laggards and those who fail to do all they can do who re- 
quire spurring. They have refused to relieve me, but insist on my 
continuing to try to do what I know in advance it is impossible to 
do. My army (men and animals) is exhausted; it wants rest and 
reorganization; it has been greatly reduced and weakened by recent 
operations, and no reinforcements of any practical value have been 
sent. Yet, in the face of all these facts, well known to them, I am 
urged, pushed and spurred to attempting to pursue and destroy an 
army nearly equal to my own, falling back upon its resources and 
reinforcements, and increasing its morale daily. This has been the 
history of all my predecessors, and I clearly saw that in time their 
fate would be mine. This was the reason I was disinclined to 
take the command, and it is for this reason I would gladly give 
it up. 

I consider the New York riots very formidable and significant. 
I have always expected the crisis of this revolution to turn on the 
attempt to execute the conscription act, and at present things look 
very unfavorable. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, 

Berlin, Md., July 18, 1863. 

I try to send you a few lines every chance I can get, but I find it 
very difficult to remember when I have written. I don't think I told 
you that on my way here, three days ago, I stopped and called on 
Mrs. Lee (Miss Carroll that was), who lives about six miles from 
this place. Mrs. Lee received me with great cordiality, insisted on 
my dining with her and daughter, which I did, and had a very nice 
time, it being quite refreshing to be once more in the presence of 
ladies, surrounded with all the refinements and comforts of home. I 


wish, if you see any of the Jacksons and Bayards, you would say how 
gratified I was at the kind hospitality of Mrs. Lee and daughter, and 
what a nice girl I thought the latter was. The army is moving to-day 
over the same road I took last fall under McClellan. The Govern- 
ment insists on my pursuing and destroying Lee. The former I can 
do, but the latter will depend on him as much as on me, for if he 
keeps out of my way, I can't destroy. Neither can I do so if he is 
reinforced and becomes my superior in numbers, which is by no 
means improbable, as I see by the papers it is reported a large por- 
tion of Bragg's army has been sent to Virginia. The proper policy 
for the Government would have been to be contented with driving 
Lee out of Maryland, and not to have advanced till this army was 
largely reinforced and reorganized, and put on such a footing that 
its advance was sure to be successful. As, however, I am bound to 
obey explicit orders, the responsibility of the consequences must and 
should rest with those who give them. Another great trouble with 
me is the want of active and energetic subordinate officers, men upon 
whom I can depend and rely upon taking care of themselves and 
commands. The loss of Reynolds and Hancock is most serious; their 
places are not to be supplied. However, with God's help, I will con- 
tinue to do the best I can. 

Union, Va., July 21, 1863. 
Your indignation at the manner in which I was treated on Lee's 
escape is not only natural, but was and is fully shared by me. I did 
think at one time writing frankly to the President, informing him I 
never desired the command, and would be most glad at any time to 
be relieved, and that, as he had expressed dissatisfaction at my course, 
I thought it was his duty, independent of any personal consideration, 
to remove me. After reflection, however, I came to the conclusion 
to take no further action in the matter, and leave it entirely with 
them. I took the command from a sense of duty. I shall continue 
to exercise it, to the best of my humble capacity, in the same spirit. 
I have no ambition or ulterior views, and whatever be my fate, I 
shall try to preserve a clear conscience. I have received very hand- 
some letters, both from Generals McClellan and Pope, which I enclose 
for your perusal and preservation. 1 I have answered them both in 
the same spirit as appears to have dictated them. 

1 For letter from McClellan to Meade, see Appendix D, 


Warrenton, Va., July 26, 1863. 
I think my last letter to you was about the 21st or 22d, when I 
was embarrassed at not ascertaining anything definite in regard to 
Lee's movements. The next day, the 22d, I had positive information 
he was moving up the Valley of the Shenandoah. I immediately put 
my army in motion and pushed through Manassas Gap, where I met 
a part of his force. By the evening of the 24th I drove his force 
through Manassas Gap, and debouched with the head of my army 
into the open country beyond, in the vicinity of Front Royal, and 
having collected five corps together, expected to get a fight out of 
him on the 25th; but on advancing on that day he was again gone, 
having moved his whole army and trains (principally through Stras- 
burg), day and night, on the 23d and 24th. Of course I was again 
disappointed, and I presume the President will be again dissatisfied. 
It is evident Lee is determined not to fight me till he gets me as far 
away from Washington as possible and in a position where all the 
advantages will be on his side. I hear from officers who have been 
in Washington that the President offered the command of this army 
to Grant, who declined it, but recommended Sherman. I consider 
I have done a great deal in compelling Lee to abandon the Valley of 
Virginia, where, but for my movements, he undoubtedly would have 
stayed, as he did last year, employing his army in gathering in the 
bountiful crops of that region, and sending them to his depots at 
Staunton and Gordonsville for use in the winter. As soon as I can 
get ready I shall move on again, and it remains to be seen whether 
he will make a stand on the Rappahannock or behind the Rapidan. 
Some people think they are preparing to abandon Virginia altogether, 
but I doubt this. 

Warrenton, Va., July 31, 1863. 
I enclose you two letters recently received — one from the Presi- 
dent to General Howard, who thought it proper to write to Mr. 
Lincoln, deprecating his dissatisfaction with me, and informing him 
I had the full confidence of the army. The other is from General 
Halleck, written voluntarily and without any particular call that I 
know, unless he has had repeated to him something that I have said. 
His letter is certainly very satisfactory, and places the matter, as I 
have replied to him, in a very different light from his telegram. Dis- 
appointment was a feeling natural to every one, and was fully shared 
in by myself. It could have been entertained without implying cen- 
sure, but dissatisfaction implied a failure on my part, which I repu- 


diated at the time and since. I have answered Halleck in the same 
spirit as his letter, thanking him for his kind feeling and good opinion, 
and explaining my position, and stating that personal considerations 
aside, I hope that whenever the President thinks I am wanting, or 
has another whom he deems better suited, I trust he will at once put 
me aside. 

I see by the Richmond papers that Lee denies we had any fight 
at Falling Water, or that I captured any organized body of pris- 
oners. He has been misinformed and it will be easy to prove the 
truth of my despatches. 

"Letters" — Lincoln to Howard, Halleck to Meade, and Meade to 
Halleck — mentioned in last letter: 

Lincoln to Howard: 

Executive Mansion, Washington, 21st July, 1863. 
My dear General Howard: 

Your letter of the 10th is received. I was deeply mortified by 
the escape of Lee across the Potomac, because the substantial de- 
struction of his army would have ended the war, and because I be- 
lieved such destruction was perfectly easy — believed that General 
Meade and his noble army had expended all the skill and toil and 
blood up to the ripe harvest, and then let the crop go to waste. 
Perhaps my mortification was heightened because I had always 
believed — making my belief a hobby possibly — that the main rebel 
army going north of the Potomac could never return, if well attended 
to ; and because I was so greatly flattered in this belief by the opera- 
tions at Gettysburg. A few days having passed I am now profoundly 
grateful for what was done, without criticism for what was not done. 
General Meade has my confidence as a brave and skillful officer and a 
true man. 

Yours very truly, 

A. Lincoln. 
Halleck to Meade: 

Headquarters of the Army, Washington, July 28, 1863. 
Major-General Meade, 

Army of the Potomac, Warrenton, Va. 
General: I take this method of writing you a few words which I 
could not well communicate in any other way. Your fight at Getty s- 


burg met with universal approbation of all military men here. You 
handled your troops in that battle as well, if not better, than any 
general has handled his army during the war. You brought all your 
forces into action at the right time and place, which no commander 
of the Army of the Potomac has done before. You may well be 
proud of that battle. The President's order of proclamation of 
July 4th showed how much he appreciated your success. And now 
a few words in regard to subsequent events. You should not have 
been surprised or vexed at the President's disappointment at the es- 
cape of Lee's army. He had examined into all the details of sending 
you reinforcements to satisfy himself that every man who could pos- 
sibly be spared from other places had been sent to your army. He 
thought that Lee's defeat was so certain that he felt no little impa- 
tience at his unexpected escape. I have no doubt, General, that you 
felt the disappointment as keenly as any one else. Such things some- 
times occur to us without any fault of our own. Take it all together, 
your short campaign has proved your superior generalship, and you 
merit, as you will receive, the confidence of the Government and the 
gratitude of the country. I need not assure you, General, that I 
have lost none of the confidence which I felt in you when I recom- 
mended you for the command. 

Very respectfully, your obedient servant, 

H. W. Halleck. 

Meade to Halleck: 

Headquarters, A. P., July 31, 1863. 

Major-General Halleck, General-in-Chief. 

My Dear General: I thank you most sincerely and heartily for 
your kind and generous letter of the 28th inst., received last evening. 
It would be wrong in me to deny that I feared there existed in the 
minds both of the President and yourself an idea that I had failed 
to do what another would and could have done in the withdrawal 
of Lee's army. The expression you have been pleased to use in a 
letter, to wit, a feeling of disappointment, is one that I cheerfully ac- 
cept and readily admit was as keenly felt by myself as any one. But 
permit me, dear General, to call your attention to the distinction be- 
tween disappointment and dissatisfaction. The one was a natural 
feeling in view of the momentous consequences that would have re- 


suited from a successful attack, but does not necessarily convey with 
it any censure. I could not view the use of the latter expression in 
any other light than as intending to convey an expression of opinion 
on the part of the President, that I had failed to do what I might 
and should have done. Now let me say in the frankness which char- 
acterizes your letter, that perhaps the President was right. If such 
was the case, it was my duty to give him an opportunity to replace 
me by one better fitted for the command of the army. It was, I 
assure you, with such feelings that I applied to be relieved. It was, 
not from any personal considerations, for I have tried in this whole 
war to forget all personal considerations, and I have always main- 
tained they should not for an instant influence any one's action. 
Of course you will understand that I do not agree that the Presi- 
dent was right — and I feel sure when the true state of the case comes 
to be known, however natural and great may be the feeling of dis- 
appointment, that no blame will be attached to any one. Had I at- 
tacked Lee the day I proposed to do so, and in the ignorance that 
then existed of his position, I have every reason to believe the attack 
would have been unsuccessful and would have resulted disastrously. 
This opinion is founded on the judgment of numerous distinguished 
officers, after inspecting Lee's vacated works and position. Among 
these officers I could name Generals Sedgwick, Wright, Slocum, Hays, 
Sykes, and others. 

The idea that Lee had abandoned his lines early in the day that 
he withdrew, I have positive intelligence is not correct, and that not 
a man was withdrawn until after dark. I mention these facts to 
remove the impression which newspaper correspondents have given 
the public: that it was only necessary to advance to secure an easy 
victory. I had great responsibility thrown on me: on one side were 
the known and important fruits of victory, and on the other, the 
equally important and terrible consequences of defeat. I considered 
my position at Williamsport very different from that at Gettysburg. 
When I left Frederick it was with the firm determination to attack 
and fight Lee without regard to time or place as soon as I could come 
in contact with him. But, after defeating him and requiring him to 
abandon his schemes of invasion, I did not think myself justified in 
making a blind attack, simply to prevent his escape, and running all 
the risks attending such a venture. Now, as I said before, in this 
perhaps I erred in judgment, for I take this occasion to say to you, 
and through you to the President — that I have no pretensions to any 


superior capacity for the post he has assigned me to — that all I can 
do is to exert my utmost efforts and do the best I can; but that the 
moment those who have a right to judge my actions think or feel 
satisfied either that I am wanting, or that another would do better, 
that moment I earnestly desire to be relieved, not on my own ac- 
count, but on account of the country and the cause. You must ex- 
cuse so much egotism, but your kind letter in a measure renders it 
necessary. I feel, General, very proud of your good opinion, and 
assure you I shall endeavor in the future to continue to merit it. Re- 
ciprocating the kind feeling you have expressed, I remain, General, 
most truly and respectfully yours, 

George G. Meade, Major-General . 

To Mrs. George G. Meade: 

Monday, August 3, 1863. 

I send a few lines by Sergeant, 1 who returns to-day. We see by 
the Herald that two of General Meade's sons are drafted, and the 
inference is that Sergeant's name has been drawn, and he ought 
therefore to be at home to attend to it. He has had a very nice 
time, of which he will give you the particulars. There was a hand- 
some little fight that Buford's cavalry had day before yesterday, that 
he might have seen, but the weather was very warm and the scene of 
operations quite distant from my headquarters, so I did not say any- 
thing to him about it. He will give you all the news and tell you all 
my troubles. 

The Government, for some reason best known to itself, has ordered 
me to cease the pursuit of Lee, though I strongly recommended an 
advance. This is confidential, though the newspapers for some days 
have been announcing that I would have to assume the defensive. 
Halleck in one despatch said it was because a considerable part of 
my army would be required to enforce the draft, but afterwards said 
he would only require sixteen hundred men, which I have sent. I 
don't know what this all means, but I suppose in time it will all come 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, August 6, 1863. 
I think I told you confidentially that Halleck had ordered me to 
halt and cease pursuing Lee, that I had given my judgment against 
the measure, but had been over-ruled. I do not know the reason. 

1 Son of General Meade. 


The other day, as you saw in the papers, I pushed my cavalry 
forward, which alarmed them (the enemy), so that Lee immediately 
withdrew all his infantry behind the Rapidan. I am quite sure if I 
was to advance now, he would fall back to Richmond. What I fear 
from the delay is that he will recruit faster than I, for, from all I can 
gather, I fear our draft will prove a perfect failure, and that the few 
men it does produce will be worthless, and will desert the first oppor- 
tunity. As the question never will be settled till their military power 
is destroyed, I think it unfortunate we do not take advantage of their 
present depression to push them as far as possible. 

I think I told you that the President wrote me privately, to know 
if I would object to Hooker being assigned to a corps under me, and 

that I answered, no. To-day I have a private letter from , 

written undoubtedly at Halleck's instigation, saying it is reported 
Hooker is to be sent, provided I apply for him, and urging me strongly 
not to do so, on the ground that he will go to work to get up cliques 

against me, and to demoralize my army. I have written to 

exactly what has occurred, and said that though my relations with 
Hooker would not justify me in objecting to his being ordered, yet 
I had no idea of applying for him, and I did not think either Hooker 
or his friends could or would expect me to do so. It would be very 
difficult for Hooker to be quiet under me or any one else, and I sin- 
cerely trust some independent command will be found for him, and 
that it will not be necessary to send him here. 

Sunday, August 9, 1863. 

General Crawford, commanding Pennsylvania Reserves, has no- 
tified me that the sword which they desire to present me with is ready, 
and asked me to allow an officer to go to Philadelphia to get it, and 
make the necessary arrangements, which I have done; so this affair 
of long standing will soon come off. 

I note what you say reports as the secession talk of New 

York; the same thing has been said in the Times, Tribune and Herald; 
but I was ahead of all these gentlemen, as in the despatch I sent 
General Halleck, urging to be permitted to advance, I told him that 
in my judgment, reasoning from the past, and in view of the power 
hitherto exercised over the people of the Confederacy, and the fer- 
tility of resources exhibited by them, I was of the opinion delay would 
be more advantageous to the enemy than to us, and that Lee would 
be reinforced more rapidly than I would be. Every day confirms me 


in this view. Up to the present time they have taken from this 
army over twenty regiments, between eight and ten thousand men, 
and as yet have sent only one hundred and twenty miserable creatures, 
substitutes for drafted men, to a Pennsylvania regiment; a dozen of 
whom it is already ascertained were discharged from old regiments 
for physical disability; four of them had delirium tremens the day 
they joined, and several have already deserted. Such worthless ma- 
terial, as these men, are no addition to this army, but only a clog, and 
if the draft is not heartily responded to, the Government had better 
make up its mind to letting the South go. Don't misunderstand 
me; I am nothing of a copperhead. I am for a vigorous prosecu- 
tion of the war; but the war cannot be prosecuted with any hope of 
success, not only without men, but a great many willing men; men 
who have their hearts in the business and who are determined to 
fight and to conquer, or die. I have had Warren made a major 
general, and George's friend, Colonel Ganard, a brigadier. 

August 16, 1863. 

I had a very quiet journey back, arriving at my headquarters 
about 10 p. M. I found that important despatches had been sent to 
me at 4 p. m., indicating a probable movement on the part of the 
enemy; so that it was very well that I returned. This information, 
brought by a scout, does not seem up to this moment to have been 
confirmed, and the stampede produced by it has pretty nearly passed 
away. I hope you had a pleasant journey to Philadelphia, and 
found them all well at home. 

The manner in which I was received and treated in Washington 
by all with whom I came in contact was certainly most gratifying to 
me. I really believe I have the confidence of all parties and will 
continue to retain it, unless some great disaster should overtake 
me, which I ought not to anticipate. It will be best for both of us 
to look upon the future in the most favorable light, and trust to 
that kind Providence which hitherto has so signally blessed and pro- 
tected us. 

August 19, 1863. 
Lee finds it as hard to recruit his army as I do mine. I do not 
hear of any reinforcements of any consequence joining him. At the 
same time it is very difficult to obtain any minute or reliable intelli- 
gence of his movements. 


I saw to-day a note from Baldy Smith, who is at Hagerstown, 
commanding four hundred men and a "secesh" hospital. He says 
he is afraid to make any stir, for fear they should serve him as they 
have Franklin, who is at Baton Rouge, commanding a division under 
Banks. This is pretty hard for Franklin, and I feel sorry for him. 

I had a visit yesterday from a Mrs. Harris, a lady belonging to 
the Sanitary and Christian Commissions, who has been connected 
with the army for a long time, and who, every one says, does a great 
deal of good. She talked a great deal about Philadelphia, where 
she belongs, and where she was going on a visit, and said every one 
would be inquiring about me, so that she had to come and see me. 

August 21, 1863. 

The draft, so far as the drawing of the names, appears to have 
passed off quietly in New York, but the tug will be when they at- 
tempt to secure the men. As, however, the Councils have appro- 
priated money enough to buy off all the quota from the city, I should 
think the difficulty might be avoided. 

I had a visit to-day from Mason Norvell, whom you may remem- 
ber in Detroit. He was just from Detroit, and brought me many 
messages from my friends there, and said I could not realize how 
much they thought of me in Detroit. 

I don't think you need fear my becoming a politician, and I be- 
lieve such persons will let me alone so long as I am successful, or 
do not meet with any disaster; and if I am unlucky, it will not make 
much difference what my sentiments are; I shall have to go by the 

August 23, 1863. 

It must be very strange, traveling to Cape May in a railroad car, 
though I have no doubt, after you get there, everything, as you say, 
looks like old times. I wish dearly I could be with you, to enjoy the 
breeze and the luxurious bathing in the surf, to say nothing of the 
great fun of building forts in the sand with dear Willie, Sarah and 
Henrietta. 1 But such happiness is denied me, and all I can do is 
to hope you will enjoy yourselves and benefit by the trip. 

To-day is Sunday. I attended service this afternoon, held by 
the chaplain of the regiment attached to my headquarters. It was 
a mongrel sort of service, being made up from our service and the 

1 Children of General Meade. 


Presbyterian. He made a short and pertinent discourse. We never 
have had the right kind of men for chaplains in the army. They 
mostly come apparently only for the pay, and either do nothing, or 
else make themselves obnoxious by interfering in matters they have 
no business with. 

August 27, 1863. 
To-morrow is the grand presentation day. I have not made the 
slightest preparation in the way of a speech, and have not the slight- 
est idea what I shall say. Governor Curtin, I understand, is to make 
the presentation address; so, of course, I shall be overwhelmed with 
his eloquence and perhaps dumfounded. On reflection, I thought it 
absurd for me to make any labored effort; that it being entirely out 
of my line, I should most likely do worse than if I just trusted to 
luck and said what at the time seemed to me pertinent and suitable. 

August 31, 1863. 
I send you to-day some scraps from the newspapers. The first 
is an extract from the London correspondent of the Presbyterian, 
which Ben. Gerhard 1 sent to me, and which I consider very flatter- 
ing; for if there is any reputation I aspire to, it is that of a gentle- 
man. The next is the account of the grand presentation from For- 
ney's Chronicle, which is the best and most accurate account I have 
seen. 2 The speech is accurately reported, with one exception, and 
that is where I am made to say, " I hoped the people of Pennsylvania 
would re-elect Governor Curtin." I said nothing of the kind, and 
made no allusions to elections. Just before I went on the stand, 

came to me and said: "If you can say anything in favor of 

Curtin, it will help us greatly." I replied: "I don't know, Mr. 

, what you mean by helping you. You know I have nothing 

to do with politics; but it was my intention before you spoke to me 
to allude to Governor Curtin and his services in behalf of the vol- 
unteers from Pennsylvania." " Well," said he, " that is all we want." 
I did say all that I am reported to have said, except the allusion to 

his re-election, which was put in by . This was bad enough; 

but in to-day's paper comes out in an editorial (which I send 

you), puffing Curtin and quoting my speech in italics. 

1 Benjamin Gerhard, brother-in-law of Mrs. Meade. 

2 The article mentioned is an editorial, and only extracts of the speech are 
given. The speech was reported in full in the New York Tribune, August 31, 
1863. See Appendix E. 


The more I examine my sword the more I am delighted with its 
beauty. It is really most chaste and artistic. It seems a pity, 
though, to waste so much money on an article that from its great 
value is actually rendered useless. 

We are having a little excitement to-day, in an expedition that 
has been sent down the river, to attempt to destroy two gunboats 
which the enemy recently surprised and captured at the mouth of the 
Rappahannock. The expedition was ordered from Washington, and 
I hope it will prove successful. 

The conscripts are coming in now pretty fast. To-day for the 
first time over a thousand arrived. They are generally pretty good 
men, and I trust the example made of the five deserters, who were 
shot on Saturday, will check the evil of desertion. This execution 
was witnessed by a very large number of soldiers, and I am told the 
only remark made was, "Why did they not begin this practice long 
ago?" Not a murmur against the justice or the propriety of the 
act was heard. Indeed, the men are the most anxious to see this 
great evil cured, as they know their own security will be advanced 

September 3, 1863. 

The expedition has been quite successful; the boats were found 
at Port Royal and were destroyed by our artillery fire from this side. 
The expedition sent to destroy them consisted of cavalry and artil- 
lery, but as they had to go a long distance, over forty miles from the 
main part of my army, I had to send infantry to support them, and 
to guard the lower crossing places to prevent the enemy coming over 
and cutting them off. This has stirred us up a little. We have also 
had a visit from Brigadier General Meigs, Quartermaster General, 
who has been inspecting the transportation of this army and who has 
been pleased to express himself very much gratified with all he has 
seen. The conscripts continue to come in very slowly, and I fear 
it will be some time before I am in a condition to move with any 
prospect of being able to accomplish anything. 

I think I told you that one of William Parker's l sons was on my 
staff. The other day he paid a visit to his regiment, and on his re- 
turn must have been captured, as nothing has since been heard of 
him. I have written Cortlandt 2 about it, but I fear the news of his 

1 First cousin of General Meade. 

2 Cortlandt Parker, brother of William Parker. 


disappearance got into the papers before my letter reached him, as 
I received a telegram to-day from his father enquiring about it. 

I sent up my sword and fixings, but at the request of our express 
agent, it is to be exhibited for a short time at Gait's jewelry shop, in 

September 5, 1863. 

Have you seen a very bitter article in Wilkes's Spirit of the Times, 
of August 29th? x He says the victory of Gettysburg was due en- 
tirely to the strength of the position and the heroic bravery of the 
common soldiers, and was entirely independent of any strategy or 
military ability displayed by any general from the senior down. He 
then charges me with imbecility and timidity, and says the Army of 
the Potomac never can do anything so long as so many incompetent 
men are at the head of it. The only consolation I have, is that cen- 
sure from such a source will in the eyes of all respectable people be 
praise. There is no doubt the position at Gettysburg was very strong, 
and that the victory was in a great measure due to this fact; and it 
is also equally true that if the men had not fought as well as they 
did, I should have been beaten; but I have yet to learn the existence 
in history of a general whose genius was equal to winning victory 
when all the advantages were against him, and his men would not 

Wilkes is a Hooker man; but whether his article was inspired ]y 
any of the friends of this officer, I am not prepared to say, and can 
hardly believe such to be the case. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, September 8, 1863. 
Yesterday I reviewed the Third Corps, commanded by General 
French. The day was pretty hot, and I had to ride six miles to the 
review and back the same distance. I received recently a very hand- 
some bouquet from two ladies in Sheboygan, Wisconsin; I send you 
the note accompanying it. Likewise a curious letter written by a 
rebel refugee in Canada. I am in receipt of such curious documents 
all the time. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, September 11, 1863. 
Everything remains quiet and in statu quo. Humphreys has 
gone to Philadelphia for a few days to see his wife, who is in the 
country, and will call to see you, and give you the latest news from 

1 For article mentioned, see Appendix F. 


camp. I wrote you in my last, of being the recipient of a bouquet 
from Wisconsin; but since then I have been honored with two very 
valuable presents. The first is a handsome scarf pin of gold and 
enamel. It is accompanied with a very flattering note stating it 
was made in England, and brought over by the donor to be presented 
in the name of himself and wife, as a tribute of admiration for my 
great services in saving the country. The note is signed W. H. 
Schenley, and I think the writer is a Captain Schenley, of the British 
navy, who many years since married Miss Croghan, of Pittsburgh. 
Captain Schenley says he intends visiting the army and making my 

The second present is five hundred most delicious Havana cigars, 
sent to me by a Mr. Motley, of New York, whom I accidentally met 
at the sword presentation to General Sedgwick, and to whom I must 
have been particularly civil, or in some way made a great impres- 
sion on him, to induce him to send me five hundred cigars. So you 
see there is some compensation for the misery we have to suffer. 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, September 13, 1863. 

A few days ago some scouts I had sent across the river returned 
and reported that Lee's army was moving back to Richmond. They 
asserted positively that that portion near Fredericksburg had actu- 
ally gone. I did not and do not much rely on their story, though I 
could not doubt but that a portion of his force had been sent away 
for some purpose either to re-inforce Beauregard at Charleston or 
Bragg in the South West. 

It was necessary, however, that I should make some effort to as- 
certain what was going on, so to-day I sent Pleasanton, with all the 
cavalry, supported by Warren's Corps (Second), to see what they 
could find out. Pleasanton crossed the river early, and immediately 
was engaged with the enemy's cavalry, and has been fighting them 
all day. The result is that we have driven them from Culpeper Court 
House, and three miles beyond, have captured three guns and over 
fifty prisoners, and Warren is now in Culpeper, some nine miles in 
front of the Rappahannock. Still the great question as to whether 
Lee is withdrawing is unsettled, though Pleasanton sends word that 
all the information that he is able to pick up goes to support the 
rumor that he is falling back. Should it prove true, I suppose some 
movement on my part will be necessary; but what, I can't say, as 
with my limited force I don't see how I can advance much farther, 


and there is no probability of their permitting me to go to the James 
River, as it uncovers Washington. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, September 16, 1863. 

The enclosed correspondence will explain itself. The day I re- 
ceived Mr. Young's letter, there was visiting at my camp the Hon. 
John Covode, of Pennsylvania, and Colonel Puleston, a friend of 
Governor Curtin. Both these gentlemen were present at the presen- 
tation and heard my remarks; both are ardent Republicans, yet they 
admitted they did not hear me make any reference to election day; 
on the contrary, admired the skill with which I praised Curtin with- 
out alluding to his political position. I do not know what Mr. 
Young will say or do, but it is his fault, or rather that of his 
reporter, and not mine, if he has been placed in a false position. 

The enemy seem disposed to keep quiet the other side of the 
Rapidan, and to let me hold the country between that river and the 
Rappahannock, which I took from them on Sunday, including Cul- 
peper Court House. I have now got as far as Pope was last year 
when he fought the battle of Cedar Mountain. I trust I will have 
better luck than he had. I am now waiting to know what they in 
Washington want done. Lee has certainly sent away a third of his 
army, but he has enough left to bother me in advancing, and though 
I have no doubt I can make him fall back, yet my force is insufficient 
to take advantage of his retiring, as I could not follow him to the 
fortifications of Richmond with the small army I have. 

At the time Mr. Covode was here, he was accompanied by a Judge 
Carter, of Ohio, recently appointed Chief Judge of the new court 
created in the District of Columbia by the last Congress. These 
gentlemen spent the night with me, and I had a long talk on national 
affairs, and I saw what I was before pretty well convinced of, that 
there was not only little prospect of any adjustment of our civil war, 
but apparently no idea of how it was to be carried on. The draft 
is confessedly a failure. Instead of three hundred thousand men, it 
will not produce over twenty-five thousand, and they mostly worth- 
less. There is no volunteering, and this time next year the whole 
of this army of veterans goes out of service, and no visible source of 
resupply. And yet no one seems to realize this state of affairs, but 
talks of going to war with England, France, and the rest of the world, 
as if our power was illimitable. Well, Heaven will doubtless in good 
time bring all things right. 


Headquarters Army of the Potomac, September 19, 1863. 

At present I am very busy. I made the advance I did under the 
belief that Lee had sent away a large portion of his army, and would 
perhaps, if threatened, retire to Richmond. I find, however, he 
evinces no disposition to do so, but is, on the contrary, posted in a 
very strong position behind the Rapidan, where he can hold me in 
check, and render it very difficult to pierce his line or turn his posi- 
tion. Under these circumstances I have referred the question to 

To-day John Minor Botts, who lives in this vicinity, came to see 
me and told me Beckham had been at his house a few days ago (be- 
fore we advanced), and spoke in the most enthusiastic terms of me; 
so that Beckham is not changed. A Mr. Pendleton also, who was in 
Congress and knew your father, called, and spoke of Mr. Joseph R. 
Ingersoll, who had been at his house. Both these gentlemen are 
Union men. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, September 24, 1863. 
The last time I wrote I told you of my having referred to Wash- 
ington the question of a further advance. As I expected, no decisive 
answer was sent to me, but I was told to act in accordance with my 
own judgment. The next thing I was summoned to Washington 
and informed that the President considered my army too large for a 
merely defensive one, and proposed to take a portion of it away. I 
objected and reasoned against this, and left Washington with the 
belief that the President was satisfied. I had just arranged the pro- 
gramme for a movement, and was about issuing the orders, when 
orders came from Washington, taking troops away. Of this I do 
not complain. The President is the best judge of where the armies 
can be best employed, and if he chooses to place this army strictly 
on the defensive, I have no right to object or murmur. I was in 
Washington from 11 p. M. Tuesday till 1 P. M. Wednesday; saw no 
one but the President, Mr. Stanton and General Halleck; was treated 
very courteously by all. I told the President and General Halleck 
that if they thought I was too slow or prudent, to put some one else 
in my place. Halleck smiled very significantly, and said he had no 
doubt I would be rejoiced to be relieved, but there was no such good 
luck for me. I cannot very well tell you all that transpired; the 
intelligence, by no means favorable, had been received from Rose- 
crans, and it was evident, without any one knowing what exactly 


might or could be done, that there still existed a feverish anxiety 
that I should try and do something. Now that I have been weak- 
ened, I presume the country will not be so exigeante. 

Culpeper Court House, Va., September 27, 1863. 

We are having lovely weather at present; our camps are beauti- 
fully situated at the foot of the Blue Ridge, with the mountains in 
view, with pure air and plenty of good water; the best country in 
Virginia we have yet been in. 

I had a visit yesterday from the Rev. Mr. Coles, Episcopal minister 
at the village, who told me he had seen Mr. Wilmer some few weeks 
since, and he had talked a great deal of me, and told him I had been 
his parishioner. He says Mr. Wilmer is not connected with the 
army, and has no church, but occupies himself in works of charity, 
and when he saw him he was on his way to visit the sick and wounded 
of the Confederate army, after its return from Pennsylvania. 

I have tried, but unsuccessfully, to get some news of the Wises. 1 
Mr. Wise's command undoubtedly went with Longstreet to Tennes- 
see, but whether he went I am not able to ascertain. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, September 30, 1863. 

I am sorry to see you so anxious about me, because it is impos- 
sible to keep you constantly advised of what is going on, and your 
imagination undoubtedly makes matters worse. You must try and 
be resigned, and not anticipate evil, but wait for its actual arrival. 
My position is of course liable to misconstruction so long as the public 
are ignorant of the truth, but the time will come when they will be 
enlightened, and then I shall be all right. Of course, if people believe 
that Lee has no army, and that I have an immense one, it is hard to 
expect them not to inquire why I do not do something; but when 
they come to know that just as I was about trying to do something, 
my army was suddenly reduced to a figure a little greater only than 
Lee's, and that he occupies a very strong position, where the natural 
advantages in his favor more than equalize the difference in our forces, 
they will understand why I cannot do anything. I have remained 
here to offer Lee battle if he chooses to come out of his stronghold, 
and to prevent by my threatening attitude his sending any more 
troops to Bragg. Whether I will get any credit for this is perhaps 

1 General Henry A. Wise and son, brother-in-law and nephew of Mrs. Meade. 


questionable. The whole matter, however, reverts to what I have 
always told you, that I intend to act up to the French motto, " Faites 
bien, laissez dire." 

I don't think I wrote to you that I had a very pleasant visit from 
a General Cortez, of the Mexican army, who came here with letters 
from the Secretaries of State and War. He spent a day with me, 
and I took him around the camps and showed him different portions 
of the army, and he went away much gratified. I also had a visit 
from Sir Henry Holland, physician to the Queen of England. He 
was a very agreeable, intelligent gentleman, over seventy years 
of age, who had crossed the Atlantic fourteen times. He seemed 
greatly interested with everything we showed him. 

To-day Gouverneur Paulding and a Dr. Young, of Cold Spring, 
New York, have been here to present General Warren with a sword. 
Paulding I have known from a boy, and Dr. Young married a daugh- 
ter of old Parson Hawley, of Washington. They also have been 
delighted with their visit. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, 

Culpeper C. H., October 4, 1863. 

I have been very busy writing my report of the battle of Get- 
tysburg, which has been delayed till this time by the want of the 
reports of my subordinate commanders, many of whom were ab- 
sent, wounded. I have at last got through with it, and feel greatly 
relieved, although I have made it as short and simple as possible. 1 

I can hardly believe my letters are opened, as you suspect. I 
can see no object to be gained, and the crime is so heinous I cannot 
believe any one would be guilty of it. 

I have heard nothing definite of young Parker since he disap- 
peared. I wrote to Sol. Meredith (Brigadier General), who is at 
present our commissioner at Fortress Monroe for the exchange of 
prisoners, and asked him to enquire through the Confederate Com- 
missioner whether Lieutenant Parker had reached Richmond. He 
answered he would do so, and send any intelligence to his father 
at Boston. I presume, however, he would let me know also if he 
heard anything. 

The only member of my staff, besides Humphreys, who messes 
with me, is Colonel Lyman. As he is an unpaid volunteer, and came 
to me on personal considerations, I took him into my mess. 

Official Records, serial No. 43, p. 114. 


To John Sergeant Meade: 1 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, October 7, 1863. 

I have read the article in Blackwood, which is tolerably fair 
for a "secesh" Englishman. The general officer referred to as being 
cheered was your humble servant, and I was at that time riding 
down the line to the left, for the purpose of ordering an attack; but 
it was so late and the distance to the enemy's line so great, that by 
the time the troops were in motion the day was at an end. 

Lee's report has just been published. Considering all things, it 
is pretty fair, in some places a little too much of what the lawyers 
call the suppressio wri. Still, I am willing to leave to history the 
fact, which he plainly admits, that after the battle of Gettysburg 
he had to retreat continuously till he reached the south bank of the 
Rappahannock, from whence he had started to destroy my army 
and accomplish other valuable results. 

To Mrs. George G. Meade: 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, October 12, 1863. 

On Saturday I found Lee was turning my right flank and assum- 
ing an offensive position. As to have remained where I was would 
have endangered my communications, I yesterday fell back to the 
Rappahannock. As I do not hear to-day anything of his movement 
on my right being continued, I have sent a force back towards Cul- 
peper, to see whether he will give me battle at any point between 
the two rivers. If he will, I shall fight him at all hazards. At the 
present moment there is firing heard, but I have not received any 

I have most earnestly, by special telegram, recommended Gib- 
bon for promotion. Indeed, himself and Buford are the only two 
that I have urged in this special manner on the attention of the 
department. The difficulty is that there are no vacancies in the 
grade of major general, and several appointments have been made 
in excess of the number authorized by law. 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, 

Centreville, October 17, 1863. 

Lee made a desperate effort to get in my rear, but I succeeded 

in out-manoeuvring him, and got into position at this place, Centre- 

1 Son of General Meade. 


ville, with my back to Washington, and ready for his attack if he 
had chosen to make it. 1 This is the third day we have been here 
and he has not come forward; I am trying to find out where he now 
is. If he is near me I shall attack him, but I fear that, failing in his 
manoeuvre, he is either going back, or going up into the Valley of 
the Shenandoah, where I shall have to follow him. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, 

Warrenton, October 21, 1863. 

Lee has retired across the Rappahannock, after completely de- 
stroying the railroad on which I depend for my supplies. His object 
is to prevent my advance, and in the meantime send more troops 
to Bragg. This was a deep game, and I am free to admit that in 
the playing of it he has got the advantage of me. 

Warrenton, October 23, 1863. 
Yesterday I received an order to repair to Washington, to see 
the President. I arrived in Washington at 2 p. M., and expected to 
leave at 6 p. m., but was detained so late that I remained there all 
night, and left this morning, early. The President was, as he always 
is, very considerate and kind. He found no fault with my opera- 
tions, although it was very evident he was disappointed that I had 
not got a battle out of Lee. He coincided with me that there was 
not much to be gained by any farther advance; but General Halleck 
was very urgent that something should be done, but what that some- 
thing was he did not define. As the Secretary of War was absent 
in Tennessee, final action was postponed till his return. 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, October 30, 1863. 
You seem to be very much puzzled about my retreat, as you mis- 
name it. It was not a retreat, but a withdrawal of the army — ma- 
noeuvring to get into a proper position to offer battle, and made to 
prevent Lee from compelling me to fight at a disadvantage. Had I 
been able to ascertain his movements, I would have given him 
battle the day Warren was attacked; but I was misled by informa- 
tion which induced me to believe he was farther ahead. As it after- 
wards turned out, I was ahead of him; which was the object I was 
trying to attain before fighting. It was greatly to my interest to 
fight, and I was most anxious to do so, but I would not do so with 
1 Bristoe, Va., campaign. 


all the advantages on his side, and the certainty that if the battle 
went against me I could not extricate the army from its perilous 
position. I don't suppose I shall ever get credit for my motives, 
except with the army. The soldiers realize the necessity of not let- 
ting the enemy have the game in their hands entirely; hence they 
cheerfully submitted to all the hardships, such as night and forced 
marches, that I was compelled to impose on them. 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, November 3, 1863. 
There is no doubt my failure to engage Lee in battle during his 
recent advance created great disappointment, in which feeling I fully 
shared. I have seen and heard of no indications of absolute dissat- 
isfaction, though this may have existed without its being manifested. 
The General in Chief did telegraph me I had better fight instead of 
running away, but as he did not explain how I could fight to advan- 
tage, I paid no attention to the very rough manner in which he ex- 
pressed his views, except to inform him that, if my judgment was 
not approved, I ought to be and deserved to be relieved; to which 
I received no reply beyond a disclaiming of any intention to give 
offence. Now I have clearly indicated what I thought feasible and 
practicable and my plan is disapproved. I think under these circum- 
stances justice to me and the true interests of the country justify 
their selecting some one else to command. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, November 9, 1863. 
When I last wrote to you I thought we were on the eve of a great 
battle, and I was also under the impression that the work I had before 
me was likely to prove a very severe task. The enemy occupied very 
strong positions on the Rappahannock, which at one place I knew 
were strongly entrenched, and I believed they were so at other points. 
Thanks, however, to their being entirely deceived as to my capacity 
to move, and to the gallantry of my men, we were enabled to carry 
their strong works and to force the passage of the river (considered 
one of the most critical operations in war), with a comparatively 
small loss, and with great eclat, as we captured four guns, eight battle 
flags and nearly two thousand prisoners. The operation being suc- 
cessful, the army is in fine spirits, and of course I am more popular 
than ever, having been greeted yesterday as I rode through the ranks 
with great cheering; and my having forced the passage of the Rap- 
pahannock and compelled Lee to retire to the Rapidan, will I trust 


convince the intelligent public that my retreat to Centreville was 
not to avoid battle, and that Lee, who was not outflanked, or had 
his communications threatened, but was attacked in front, and yet 
withdrew, is really the one who has avoided battle. I certainly ex- 
pected he would fight, and can only now account for his not doing 
so on the ground that he was deceived as to my strength and con- 
strued my sudden and bold advance into an evidence that I had been 
strongly reinforced and greatly outnumbered him. I must say I was 
greatly disappointed when I found Lee refused my offer of battle, 
because I was most desirous of effecting something decisive, and I 
know his refusal was only a postponement of a question that had to 
be met and decided. 

I have received a telegram from the President, expressing his 
satisfaction with my operations. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, November 25, 1863. 

Yesterday it stormed, which required a postponement of the con- 
templated movement. I was going to advance to-morrow, and may 
yet do so, although at present the sky is overcast and threatening. 
It is of the utmost importance to the success of any movement to 
have good weather, particularly at this season of the year, when the 
roads, after a day's rain, become impassable. I think if I advance 
we shall have a great and decisive battle, with what result, He who 
reigns above alone can tell in advance. My army is in excellent con- 
dition and in high spirits, and confident of success, if they can get 
anything of a fair chance, and so far as mortals can anticipate such 
doubtful matters as battles, I have a right to be hopeful. Let us 
trust it may please God to crown our efforts with victory, and to 
extend to me, as He has hitherto so signally done, His mercy and 

George 1 is quite well; he has been occupied, taking care of the 
English Guardsmen, who are so pleased with their visit they are 
remaining to see the fight. 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, December 2, 1863. 

I expect your wishes will now soon be gratified, and that I shall 

be relieved from the Army of the Potomac. The facts are briefly 

these: On the 26th ultimo I crossed the Rapidan, intending to turn 

the right flank of General Lee and attack him, or compel him to 

1 Son of General Meade. 


attack me out of his formidable river entrenchments. I had pre- 
viously been advised, by deserters and others, that he had commenced 
a line of works running perpendicular to the river, but only extending 
a few miles, but which he designed covering his flank, and permitting 
him to leave the lower fords unguarded. I accordingly made my 
plans to cross in three columns, to unite at a common point below 
his entrenchments, and then to advance rapidly and attack him be- 
fore he could prepare any defenses. The plan was a good one, but 
owing to the failure of others to whom its execution was necessarily 
intrusted, it failed. In the first place, one corps was three hours 
behind time in arriving at the river, and slow of movement after- 
wards; which caused a delay of one day, enabled the enemy to 
advance and check my columns before they united, and finally to 
concentrate his army in a very formidable position, behind entrench- 
ments almost as strong as those I was making a long detour to avoid. 
Again, after I had come up with the enemy, one corps commander 1 
reported he had examined a position where there was not the slightest 
doubt he could carry the enemy's works, and on his positive and 
unhesitating judgment, he was given twenty-eight thousand men, and 
directed to attack the next morning at eight o'clock. At the same 
time another attack was to be made by fifteen thousand men, at a 
point where the enemy evidently was not fully prepared. On the 
eventful morning, just as the attack was about being made, I received 
a despatch from the officer commanding the twenty-eight thousand 
men, saying he had changed his opinion, and that the attack on his 
front was so hopeless, that he had assumed the responsibility of sus- 
pending it till further orders were received. This astounding intel- 
ligence reached me just ten minutes before the hour of attacking, 
and barely in time to suspend the other attack, which was a second- 
ary one, and which, even if successful, could not be supported with 
so large a portion of my force away for the main attack. This lost 
me another day, during which the enemy so strengthened the point 
threatened by the secondary attack as to render it nearly as strong 
as the rest of his line, and to have almost destroyed the before prob- 
able chances of success. Finding no possibility of attacking with 
hope of success, and power to follow up success, and that the only 
weak point visible had been strengthened during the delay caused 
by the change of opinion of a corps commander, I determined not 
to attempt an assault. I could not move any further around the 

1 General G. K. Warren. 


enemy's flank, for want of roads, and from the danger at this season 
of the year of a storm, which would render locomotion, off the pre- 
pared roads, a matter of impossibility. After reviewing all the cir- 
cumstances, notwithstanding my most earnest desire to give battle, 
and in the full consciousness of the fact that my failure to do so was 
certain personal ruin, I, having come to the conclusion that an attack 
could not be successful, determined to, and did, withdraw the army. 
I am fully aware it will be said I did wrong in deciding this question 
by reasoning, and that I ought to have tried, and then a failure would 
have been evidence of my good judgment; but I trust I have too 
much reputation as a general to be obliged to encounter certain de- 
feat, in order to prove that victory was not possible. Political con- 
siderations will, however, enter largely into the decision, and the 
failure of the Army of the Potomac to do anything, at this moment, 
will be considered of vital consequence, and if I can be held respon- 
sible for this failure, I will be removed to prove that I am. I there- 
fore consider my fate as settled; but as I have told you before, I 
would rather be ignominiously dismissed, and suffer anything, than 
knowingly and wilfully have thousands of brave men slaughtered for 
nothing. It was my deliberate judgment that I ought not to attack; 
I acted on that judgment, and I am willing to stand or fall by it at 
all hazards. I shall write to the President, giving him a clear state- 
ment of the case, and endeavoring to free his action as much as pos- 
sible, by assuming myself all the responsibility. I feel of course 
greatly disappointed; a little more good fortune, and I should have 
met with brilliant success. As it is, my conscience is clear. I did 
the best I could. If I had thought there was any reasonable degree 
of probability of success, I would have attacked. I did not think so; 
on the contrary, believed it would result in a useless and criminal 
slaughter of brave men, and might result in serious disaster to the 
army. I determined not to attack, no other movements were prac- 
ticable, and I withdrew. There will be a great howl all over the 
country. Letter writers and politicians will denounce me. It will 
be proved as clear as the light of day, that an attack was perfectly 
practicable, and that everyone, except myself, in the army, particu- 
larly the soldiers, was dying for it, and that I had some mysterious 
object in view, either in connection with politics, or stock-jobbing, 
or something else about as foreign to my thoughts, and finally the 
Administration will be obliged to yield to popular clamor and dis- 
card me. For all this I am prepared, fortified as I said before by a 


clear conscience, and the conviction that I have acted from a high 
sense of duty, to myself as a soldier, to my men as their general, and 
to my country and its cause, as the agent having its vital interests 
solemnly entrusted to me, which I have no right wantonly to play 
with and to jeopardize, either for my own personal benefit, or to 
satisfy the demands of popular clamor, or interested politicians. 1 

George 2 was sent with one of the messages to suspend the attack; 
his horse fell with him, he was a little bruised and cut about the 
eye, but nothing serious. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, December 3, 1863. 

Two days have now elapsed since I officially announced the re- 
turn of the army, and yet not a word or line has been vouchsafed 
me from Washington. I am somewhat at a loss to know what the 
silence of the authorities means. My despatch simply stated the 
fact that, finding Lee too strongly posted and entrenched to justify 
my attacking him, and not being able to make any further tactical 
movement on his flank, I had felt it my duty to withdraw the army, 
and feared the lateness of the season would prevent any other offen- 
sive operations. I made no explanations of the causes of the failure 
of my plans, nor have any been asked. I did think at one time of 
writing to the President, who has always treated me with great kind- 
ness, but, upon reflection, I deemed it best to communicate only 
officially, and in a day or two I shall make an official report, which 
will set the whole matter right. Of one thing I am sure, that my 
course has met the full approbation of the army and increased the 
confidence they before had in me. 

I yesterday received a letter from Charlotte Ingraham. 3 She tells 
me all her brothers, and one brother-in-law, lie on the battlefield, 
thus confirming the report I had heard that Frank had been killed 
at Gettysburg. She says her parents are at Port Gibson, completely 
ruined, and that they have all to begin anew the world. Is not this 

I enclose you a curious correspondence just received to file among 
the historical papers of the war. Poor Mr. Holstein has committed 
a very bold act, and I fear it will not be long before he will have to 
repent. I have written him a letter of thanks and send him my 
photograph, my hair being too gray to display in Bridgeport and 

1 Mine Run campaign. 2 Son of General Meade. 

3 Niece of General Meade. 


my coats requiring all the buttons they have on them. Is not this 
a funny world? 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, December 7, 1863. 

I am yet on the anxious bench; not one word has been vouch- 
safed me from Washington. To-day I have sent in my official report, 
in which I have told the plain truth, acknowledged the movement 
was a failure, but claimed the causes were not in my plans, but in 
the want of support and co-operation on the part of subordinates. 1 
I don't know whether my report will be published, but if it is, it will 
make a sensation, and undoubtedly result in some official investiga- 
tion. I have received a very kind letter from Cortlandt Parker 
(written before he had received yours), in which he sympathizes 
with me in the failure, but says he is satisfied I have done right, 
and that I have not lost the confidence of intelligent people, and he 
hopes I will not resign, but hold on till the last. I have also re- 
ceived a very kind and complimentary letter from Gibbon, saying 
he had as much confidence as ever in my ability to command, and 
that military men would sustain me. I telegraphed General Halleck 
that I desired to visit Washington, but his reply was couched in 
such terms that, though it gave me permission to go, clearly in- 
timated that my presence was not desired, so far as he was con- 
cerned. I have in consequence not gone, and now shall not go 
unless they send for me. 

I see the Herald is constantly harping on the assertion that Get- 
tysburg was fought by the corps commanders and the common sol- 
diers, and that no generalship was displayed. I suppose after awhile 
it will be discovered I was not at Gettysburg at all. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, December 11, 1863. 
I have not heard a word from Washington, but from what I see 
in the papers, and what I hear from officers returning from Wash- 
ington, I take it my supersedure is decided upon, and the only ques- 
tion is who is to succeed me. I understand the President and Sec- 
retary Chase are very anxious to bring Hooker back; but Halleck 
and Stanton will undoubtedly oppose this. A compromise may 
perhaps be made by bringing Thomas 2 here, and giving Hooker 
Thomas's army. 

1 Official Records, serial No. 48, p. 8. 

2 Major-General George H. Thomas, commanding the Army of the Cumber- 


I have very kind letters from Gibbon and Hancock, both hoping 
I will not be relieved, and each saying they had not lost a particle of 
confidence in me. Many officers in the army have expressed the 
same feeling, and I really believe the voice of the army will sustain 
me. This, though, goes for nothing in Washington. I will not go 
to Washington to be snubbed by these people; they may relieve me* 
but I will preserve my dignity. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, December 12, 1863. 
The mail has just come in and brings to-day's Washington 
Chronicle, which announces I am not to be relieved. As this paper 
is edited by Forney, who is supposed to have confidential relations 
with the Administration, I presume this announcement may be 
considered semi-official. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, December 16, 1863. 

I received yesterday your letter of the 13th inst., and would have 
answered it at once, but about 2 p. m. we had a sudden invasion of 
Muscovites, some twenty-four officers of the fleet visiting the army, 
and I had to give them my attention till after 10 p. M., when they 
returned to Alexandria. I had the Sixth Corps paraded and some 
artillery to show them. We had great fun with them in mounting 
them on horseback, which they all insisted on attempting; but we 
had not proceeded far before one was thrown and some half a dozen 
ran away with. After the review we gave them some dinner, with 
plenty of brandy and whisky, and, making them jolly, sent them 
back highly delighted with their visit and reception. They appeared 
intelligent and gentlemanly, almost all speaking English quite well. 
The admiral did not honor us, Captain Bourtakoff being the senior 
officer with the party. 

I presume you have seen how highly honored I have been in 
having my name associated with General Hooker by Mr. Wilson, 
in the Senate, in a vote of thanks for the Gettysburg campaign. 
Why they confined the including of my predecessors to Hooker 
I am at a loss to imagine. He certainly had no more to do with my 
operations and success at Gettysburg than either Burnside or 
McClellan; but I presume Mr. Wilson, who is a great friend and 
admirer of Hooker, was a little doubtful of a distinct resolution on 
his behalf getting through. 


Headquarters Army of the Potomac, December 18, 1863. 

To-day Captain Chauncey handed me your letter of the 13th 

As to politics and politicians, as I never have had anything to do 
with them, and have personal friends in all parties, I don't see why 
I am to fear them now. I think I can keep them in their proper 
places. Already the Tribune has charged that the gentleman in New 
Jersey, my correspondent, is George B. McClellan, and asks why this 
is not openly avowed. I have no political aspirations. I have the 
ambition to prove myself a good soldier, and intend to try to afford 
evidences of this to the last. Major Jim Biddle has gone on leave; 
so you will hear all the latest news from the camp. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, December 20, 1863. 

As to the Christmas box you ask about, it is hardly necessary to 
send it, as the Frenchman who messes me provides me liberally with 
everything, and these boxes are very expensive. I expect you will 
have your hands full with the children at Christmas, and I think 
you had better throw into this fund the amount you would expend 
on me for a box and mufti. 

I have had several visitors recently. One was the Chevalier 
Danesi, a young Sardinian officer, who has come to this country 
with a view of serving in our army. The other was an English gen- 
tleman, from Liverpool, an original Union man, who desired to see 
our army in the field. Danesi brought me a letter from McClellan, 
and the Englishman one from Mr. Seward, Secretary of State. They 
both spent a day very pleasantly, and I endeavored to be civil to 

I suppose you have seen Greeley's apology about the New Jersey 
letter. After he found it was written to a loyal Republican, he 
changed his tune about the character of its contents. I wonder what 
these people want if they are not satisfied with my services and my 
practical devotion to their cause? 

You ask me about Grant. It is difficult for me to reply. I knew 
him as a young man in the Mexican war, at which time he was con- 
sidered a clever young officer, but nothing extraordinary. He was 
compelled to resign some years before the present war, owing to his 
irregular habits. I think his great characteristic is indomitable 
energy and great tenacity of purpose. He certainly has been very 
successful, and that is nowadays the measure of reputation. The 


enemy, however, have never had in any of their Western armies 
either the generals or the troops they have had in Virginia, nor has 
the country been so favorable for them there as here. Grant has 
undoubtedly shown very superior abilities, and is I think justly 
entitled to all the honors they propose to bestow upon him. 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, December 24, 1863. 
George 1 will tell you of my French visitors, and that they took 
up so much of my time that I could not write. To-day I have sent 
them out under the escort of a staff officer, and have embraced the 
chance to send you a few lines. They are very clever gentlemen — 
indeed, the most gentlemanly Frenchmen I have ever met. I under- 
stand they belong to the haute noblesse. One is the Prince d'Arem- 
berg and the other the Comte de Choiseul. They have with them a 
young Englishman named Blount, who is an habitue of the Paris 
salons, and who came over with them. The two Frenchmen are of- 
ficers of cavalry in the army, one on leave from his regiment in Paris, 
and the other going to Mexico. They brought me a very strong note 
from Mr. Mercier, the French Minister at Washington, who only re- 
frained from accompanying them because he is about to return next 
week to Europe. They have in their company a Mr. Hutton, from 
New York, who used to be on Burnside's staff. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, December 28, 1863. 

I was very sorry I could not be at home to spend Christmas with 
you and the children, but was glad to let George 1 go. I spent a very 
quiet day in camp, attending to the business of re-enlisting the vet- 
eran volunteers, to which I had to give much personal attention, as 
I had let Williams, Humphreys, and many others, go to Washington 
to spend the day. 

Yesterday General Hancock arrived. He has been with me all 
the time since his arrival, and we have had a long talk. He says 
it was undoubtedly intended at first to relieve me, and it was, as I 
surmised, intimated to him that he would be placed in command. 
Such was his impression till the day before he came down, when, on 
reporting to Halleck, he was told the design was abandoned, and 
that he could go down to his old corps. Hancock further says that 
Halleck declares he saved me; that they were going to relieve me at 
once on the receipt of the intelligence that I had returned; but that 
1 Son of General Meade. 


he, Halleck, said, "No, an officer who gained the battle of Gettys- 
burg is entitled to more consideration. Let us wait and hear what 
General Meade has to say, and if his report is not satisfactory, then 
we can act advisedly." This was agreed to, and the unanimous 
opinion of all returning officers, together with my report, changed 
the whole aspect of the case. I must say I am gratified some little 
consideration was extended towards me and that justice was finally 

I understand there is a bitter article in Wilkes's Spirit of the 
Times, asserting that Hooker planned the campaign of Gettysburg, 
and that Butterfield wrote all the orders for the movements, in ac- 
cordance with Hooker's plans. 1 I furthermore hear that General 
Sickles asserts that Hancock selected the position, and that he 
(Sickles), with his corps, did all the fighting at Gettysburg. So, I 
presume, before long it will be clearly proved that my presence on 
the field was rather an injury than otherwise. 

The President has written me that he desires to see me upon the 
subject of executing deserters; so, as soon as I can get time, I shall 
have to go up to Washington. 

To John Sergeant Meade: 2 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, January 6, 1864. 

We have now at headquarters Collis's "Zu-Zu" Regiment, com- 
manded by one of the Bowens, Collis being in command of a brigade 
in the Third Corps. They have a fine band, one of the best in the 

A good many of the old volunteers have re-enlisted — more than 
I expected — and if Congress allows the bounty hitherto paid, many 
more will re-enlist. 

To Mrs. George G. Meade: 

Willard's Hotel, Sunday, February 14, 1864 — 7 p. m. 

I felt very badly at leaving you, but I tried to reconcile myself 

to what was inevitable and could not be helped. We had a very 

pleasant journey to this place. Mr. Cram and Colonel Bache joined 

us at the depot, and at Wilmington I found General Hartsuff and 

1 For article mentioned, see Appendix G, 

2 Son of General Meade. 


Colonel Sackett on the train and took them into the car. Mr. Felton, 
the president of the company, was at the cars and was very civil. 
When we crossed the Susquehanna an elegant cold collation with 
champagne was set out, of which we all freely partook. On arriving 
here we took tea, and soon afterwards, about nine o'clock, I went 
to bed. The next day I spent all the day at the Department and 
White House. The Secretary was, as he always is, very civil and 
ready to accede to all my suggestions. He gratified me very much 
by saying that there was no officer in command who had to so great 
a degree the implicit confidence of all parties as myself; but he said 
there were several officers in my army that did not have the confi- 
dence of the country, and that I was injuring myself by retaining 
them. I told him I did not know who they were, but that if he was 
aware of this fact, I thought it was his duty to retire them, and I 
should not object; and I suppose the result will be a pretty general 
sweeping out. While with the Secretary, Mr. Usher, Secretary of 
the Interior, came in and invited me to his house at seven o'clock. 
Supposing it to be an evening party, where I could show myself and 
slip out, I accepted; but on going there I found it to be a regular 
dinner party. Senators Collamore, Wilson, Wilkeson and Powell, 
together with Judges Holt and Law, and the ladies of the family, 
constituted the party. All received and treated me with great dis- 
tinction and civility, and about 10 P. M. I got home, and, after a talk 
with Cram, went to bed, a little tired. I had intended to go down 
to the army this morning, but received last night a note from the 
Secretary, saying he wanted to see me to-day; so I had to spend 
some four or five hours at the Department, and the rest of the day 
have remained quietly in the house with Cram. 

Mr. Harding with Mrs. Harding are here, also Cortlandt Parker. 
I have not seen our friends the Harrises, except the Senator. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, February 16, 1864. 
I reached camp yesterday about 4 p. m., but was so much en- 
gaged talking to those who came to see me that I had no time to 
write to you. I had a grand sleep last night in my old buffalo robe, 
and feel a great deal better to-day, the cold in my head being much 
better. Indeed, it may be imagination, but I think getting back to 
camp has been decidedly beneficial, notwithstanding I arrived in a 
snow storm and that it has been very cold to-day. My friend Lyman 
had a big fire in my tent all day before I came. By-the-by, Lyman 


tells me his father-in-law, Mr. Russell, studied law in your father's 
office, and remembers you very well. If you see Colonel Bache, you 
can tell him Lyman is the son of his old friend, as Lyman tells me 
his father was Mayor of Boston and married a Miss Henderson, of 
New York. 

I have been overwhelmed with business and papers to-day. 
Among others, I have some fifteen applications for autographs and 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, February 18, 1864. 

I have got quite well again; the slight cold I had in Washington 
has disappeared, and I have lost the sensation of weakness which I 
retained till I left Washington. I find there has been a good deal of 
pneumonia in camp. Major Barstow, on my staff, was quite sick 
with it. He is now well. He is, by-the-by, a son of your father's old 
friend in Salem and remembers visiting your house in Philadelphia. 
To-day a very nice fellow, the agent of the Associated Press, died of 
pneumonia. Everything was done for him in the way of medical 
attendance and nursing, but without avail. The weather has been 
intensely cold, the thermometer last night being as low as zero. 
To-day it is more moderate and cloudy, looking like snow. 

I have to go up to Washington to-morrow, which I dislike very 
much, besides its being so expensive. Affairs here are very quiet. 

1 have not seen many of the officers except those immediately around 
me. I have to go to Washington to arrange the details of the pro- 
posed reorganization, which will make a great noise when they are 
made public. 

In Camp, February 21, 1864. 
I returned from Washington to-day, very much fatigued and worn 
out with two days passed in that place. I reached there Friday about 

2 p. M., and immediately went to the Department, where I stayed 
till 6 p. M., returned to the hotel, dined, and spent the evening with 
Mr. Odell, member of Congress, and Judge Harris. The next day, 
Saturday, I was with General Halleck till 3 P. m., when I went out 
to Georgetown and saw Margaret. 1 I ought to have mentioned that 
before going to see Margaret, I stopped at the President's, where 
Mrs. Lincoln was holding a levee, and spent a half-hour. I also 
ought to have stated that the evening before, after leaving Judge 

1 Sister of General Meade. 


Harris, I was persuaded by Mr. Harding and Cortlandt Parker to 
go to Speaker Colfax's reception, where I was a great lion, Mr. Col- 
fax himself turning usher and bringing every man and woman in the 
room to introduce to me. All this going about, sitting up late at 
night and standing so much, had its effect on me, wearying and fa- 
tiguing me so that I was very glad to get back to-day. 

The army is overrun with women. There is to be a grand ball 
to-morrow at the headquarters of the Second Corps, and I believe 
half of Washington is coming down to attend. I expected the Sec- 
retary of the Interior and his lady to come down with me to-day, but 
he did not come to the cars. As the ball is nearly five miles from 
my headquarters, I don't think I shall have the courage to go. I don't 
mind the going, but it is the coming back which is so unpleasant. 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, February 24, 1864. 
Since writing last we have had quite a gay time. The ball of 
the Second Corps came off on the 22d, and was quite a success. The 
room constructed for the purpose was beautifully decorated. There 
were present about three hundred ladies, many coming from Wash- 
ington for the occasion, an elegant supper furnished by Gautier, in- 
deed everything in fine style. I rode over in an ambulance a dis- 
tance of five miles, and got back to my bed by four o'clock in the 
morning. The next day I reviewed the Second Corps for the bene- 
fit of our lady guests. I mounted my horse at 11 o'clock, rode over 
to the review and got back at six, having been seven hours in the 
saddle, and I believe I was less fatigued than any of my staff, so you 
can judge I have quite recovered my strength. George 1 went to the 
ball and enjoyed himself hugely. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, February 27, 1864. 

I am glad George 1 wrote you an account of the ball. I should 
have been delighted, if I had owned the carpet in the Arabian Nights 
to have transported sister and yourself to the army for that night, 
but the journey here and back, the expense and fatigue, besides 
exposure, were all drawbacks, greater than the compensation to be 
found in the pleasure of your presence. 

I have been a good deal occupied with an attempt I am about 
making, to send a force of cavalry into Richmond to liberate our pris- 
oners. The undertaking is a desperate one, but the anxiety and dis- 
1 Son of General Meade. 


tress of the public and of the authorities at Washington is so great that 
it seems to demand running great risks for the chances of success. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, February 29, 1864. 

Yesterday Mr. Dorr, from Christ Church, preached for us, and 
afterwards dined and spent the evening with me. During the even- 
ing one of the escaped prisoners from Libby prison, who had made 
his way from Richmond right through the main body of Lee's army 
and into our lines, came to see me, and Mr. Dorr seemed very much 
interested in the narrative of his adventures. He returned home this 
morning, delighted with his visit to the army and all he had seen. 
He has a son who is a captain in Chapman Biddle's regiment, the 
One Hundred and Twenty-first Pennsylvania Volunteers. 

My cavalry expedition for Richmond got off last night, and at 
2 A. M., the last I heard from them, they were getting on famously, 
not having met any one or being, as far as they could tell, discovered 
by the enemy. I trust they will be successful; it will be the great- 
est feat of the war, if they do succeed, and will immortalize them all. 
Young Dahlgren, 1 with his one leg, went along with them. The 
weather from having been most favorable, now that the expedition 
has gone, begins to look suspicious, and to-night we have a little rain. 

I see Congress has passed the Lieutenant General bill. This will 
make Grant Commander-in-Chief; what will become of Halleck I 
can't tell, and possibly when Grant is responsible for all military 
operations, he may want some one else whom he knows better in 
command of this army. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, March 2, 1864, 
We have all been in a state of excitement about our recent cavalry 
raids. On the 28th, I moved the Sixth Corps and part of the Third 
to Madison Court House, threatening the enemy's left flank. At the 
same time Custer, with fifteen hundred cavalry and two pieces of 
artillery, was sent to Charlottesville to try and cut the Gordonsville 
and Lynchburg Railroad near that place, where there is an impor- 
tant bridge over the Ravenna River. Custer got within two miles 
of the bridge, but found it too strongly guarded. He, however, skir- 
mished with the enemy, destroyed and captured a great deal of prop- 
erty, took fifty prisoners, and on his return cut his way through a 
large cavalry force, commanded by Jeb. Stuart, that had been sent 

iUlric Dahlgren, killed March 4, 1864. 


to cut him off, thus being quite successful. In the meantime, while 
the enemy's attention was fully occupied with Custer, and they were 
under the impression I was moving in that direction, Kilpatrick, with 
four thousand cavalry and six guns, at night crossed the Rapidan on 
our left and pushed straight for Richmond. He fortunately captured 
the picket on the Rapidan, thus preventing early intelligence of his 
movement being communicated. He left Sunday night, and the last 
we have heard of him was Monday afternoon, when he was within 
thirty miles of Richmond. Of course you can imagine our anxiety 
to know his fate. If he finds Richmond no better guarded than our 
information says it is, he will have a great chance of getting in and 
liberating all the prisoners, which is the great object of the movement. 
God grant he may, for their sakes and his. 

I suppose you have seen by the papers that I have been con- 
firmed as a brigadier general in the regular army. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, March 6, 1864. 
I returned from Washington to-day. I went there Friday morn- 
ing on business connected with the reorganization of the army. The 
night before I left I saw Mr. Wilkeson's attack on me in the Senate 
and Reverdy Johnston's reply and defense. When I reached Wash- 
ington I was greatly surprised to find the whole town talking of cer- 
tain grave charges of Generals Sickles and Doubleday, that had been 
made against me in their testimony before the Committee on the 
Conduct of the War. On Saturday I was summoned before the com- 
mittee. I found there only Mr. Wade, of Ohio. He was very civil, 
denied there were any charges against me, but said the committee 
was making up a sort of history of the war and was now taking evi- 
dence to enable it to give an account of the battle of Gettysburg, and 
my administration since commanding the army. I then occupied 
about three hours giving a succinct narrative of events. Subse- 
quently Mr. Stanton told me (this is strictly confidential), that there 
was and had been much pressure from a certain party to get Hooker 
back in command, and that thinking, through Sickles and others, 
they might get me out (a preliminary step) they had gotten up this 
halloobaloo in the Committee on the Conduct of the War; but that 
I need not worry myself, there was no chance of their succeeding. 
The only evil that will result is the spreading over the country cer- 
tain mysterious whisperings of dreadful deficiencies on my part, the 
truth concerning which will never reach the thousandth part of those 


who hear the lies. I suppose and fear you will be worried about 
them, but I beg you to be calm and quiet, and rest satisfied that I 
will come out all right in the end. 

I saw nobody in Washington, except people about the Govern- 
ment, except Mr. Howard, of Michigan, whom I went to see and to 
whom I explained the absurd charge of Sickles, that I had ordered 
a retreat at Gettysburg, and that that battle was fought in spite of 
all my efforts to prevent it. 

It is a melancholy state of affairs, however, when persons like 
Sickles and Doubleday can, by distorting and twisting facts, and 
giving a false coloring, induce the press and public for a time, and 
almost immediately, to take away the character of a man who up 
to that time had stood high in their estimation. However, I sup- 
pose we cannot change human nature; we must be patient, await 
the period when the truth will slowly and surely make itself be known. 

You have doubtless seen that Kilpatrick's raid was an utter fail- 
ure. I did not expect much from it. Poor Dahlgren I am sorry for. 

The committee on the conduct of the war played so important a 
part at this period in the affairs of General Meade, and its action, 
injurious to his fair fame, and demoralizing to the army he com- 
manded, so frequently forms the burden of the letters immediately 
following, that it is desirable to supply the basis upon which the state- 
ments in those letters were founded, and to add corroborative facts, 
unknown even to General Meade himself. The nation and posterity, 
as the highest earthly tribunals to which a man may appeal, shall 
judge whether, so far as General Meade is concerned, this arraign- 
ment is without just cause. 

The joint committee was authorized by act of Congress in De- 
cember, 1861. It was composed of three members of the Senate and 
four of the House of Representatives, and instructed to examine into 
the conduct of the war. It was continued through successive Con- 
gresses, until after the close of the war, nearly the same members 
as originally appointed serving throughout its whole existence — cer- 
tainly the controlling members. The greatest number were selected 
from the dominant party, and from the extreme wing of that party. 

The Army of the Potomac unfortunately furnished, through its 
proximity to the capital, a fine opportunity to the committee for the 
exercise of its peculiar theories as to the proper mode of conducting 


a great war, and at the committee's door can justly be laid the in- 
centives to most of the intrigues, rivalries, and dissensions that marred 
the otherwise brilliant record of that army. There were at times 
some good and true men on the committee, who honestly endeavored 
to carry out the intention for which it had been organized, but they 
were overpowered by the controlling element, and their presence is ap- 
parent only when, as we see by the printed record, they occasionally, 
by the interjection of a judicious question to a witness, endeavored 
to elicit testimony that could not possibly be misconstrued. The 
bitter animosity of the course of the committee toward General 
Meade was but a striking example of that with which many other 
worthy officers were pursued. The reports in his case are a tissue 
of perverted testimony, elicited with the object plainly in view of 
breaking down his reputation. Much of the annoyance experienced 
and expressed by him was owing to the influence of the committee. 
It sowed the seeds of dissension in his army, and in pursuit of its 
aims supplied, through its position and influence, much of the false 
and damaging information which, spread broadcast over the coun- 
try, influenced the press and misled the public. The committee's 
voluminous reports, which otherwise would have been the valuable 
record of a great war, are rendered utterly worthless by the char- 
acter of many witnesses on whose testimony conclusions are based; 
by the distortion in some cases, and the suppression in others, of 
testimony unsuited to its purposes; and even the conclusions reached 
are rarely borne out by the printed reports of the committee itself. 

The committee was composed in March, 1864, of Senator Benja- 
min F. Wade, of Ohio, Chairman, and Senators Zachariah Chandler, 
of Michigan, Benjamin F. Harding, of Oregon; Representatives 
Daniel W. Gooch, of Massachusetts, George W. Julian, of Indiana, 
Moses F. Odell, of New York, Benjamin F. Loan, of Missouri. 

Let us now proceed to examine whether the chief allegation made, 
of flagrant injustice on the part of the committee to General Meade 
(for beyond him the province of this work does not extend), is justi- 
fied by the facts about to be cited. 

General Meade, in his last letter of the preceding series, dated 
March 6, 1864, relates how greatly he was surprised, on his arrival 
in Washington on March 4, to find the whole town talking of the 
grave charges that had been made against him before the commit- 
tee, in connection with the battle of Gettysburg. This was the first 
intimation he had that the committee was even examining into the 


Gettysburg campaign, let alone that any charges had been made 
against him. He further relates in the letter, that on the next day 
he had been summoned to appear, and on the following day had ap- 
peared, before the committee. This was his first experience of the 
committee, save in March, 1863, when he had given his brief testi- 
mony relating to the battle of Fredericksburg. On the occasion of the 
committee's examination of witnesses in relation to the campaign 
and battle of Chancellorsville, much to his gratification he had not 
been summoned, though it would appear from the published testi- 
mony that he played quite a conspicuous part in them, and might 
reasonably, from his position on the field, have been supposed to 
know something about them; but for that occasion his knowledge 
was not of the kind sought by the committee. 

Reference to the journal of the committee, which forms part of its 
voluminous reports, shows what, at the very outset, General Meade 
had to contend with. It is there seen that the committee had under- 
taken an investigation of the campaign and battle of Gettysburg, on 
February 26, 1864, Major-General Daniel E. Sickles being the first 
witness examined. On March 1, Major-General Abner Doubleday 
was examined. On March 3, Brigadier-General Albion P. Howe was 
examined, the giving of his testimony lasting two days. On March 
4, immediately after the conclusion of General Howe's testimony, as 
it is printed in the journal of the committee, appears the following 

" The chairman directed the stenographer to enter upon the jour- 
nal, that, having become impressed with the exceeding importance 
of the testimony taken by the committee, in relation to the Army of 
the Potomac, more especially in relation to the incompetency of the 
general in command of the army, he and Mr. Chandler had believed 
it to be their duty to call upon the President and the Secretary of 
War, and lay before them the substance of the testimony taken by 
them, and, in behalf of the army and the country, demand the re- 
moval of General Meade, and the appointment of some one more 
competent to command. They accordingly did so yesterday after- 
noon, and being asked what general they could recommend for the 
command of the Army of the Potomac, they said that, for them- 
selves, they would be content with General Hooker, believing him 
to be competent; but not being advocates of any particular general 
they would say, if there was any general whom the President con- 
sidered more competent for the command, then let him be appointed. 


They stated that Congress had appointed the committee to watch 
the conduct of the war, and unless this state of things should soon 
be changed, it would be their duty to make the testimony public 
which had been taken, with such comments as the circumstances of 
the case seemed to require." 

So, by the printed record of the committee, it appears that after 
the exhaustive examination of the three distinguished military au- 
thorities, Generals Sickles, Doubleday, and Howe, and without General 
Meade having been called upon to testify in his own behalf, Mr. Wade, 
the chairman, and Mr. Chandler, the two most prominent and active 
members of the committee, had deemed it their duty to wait upon 
the President and secretary of war, and "in behalf of the army and 
the country," demand the removal of General Meade. 

To realize the enormity of these proceedings it is necessary for 
the reader to bear in mind the relation of certain dates to each other. 
The action of Mr. Wade and his colleague is shown by the journal, 
as just quoted above, to have been taken on the 3d of March, one 
day before General Howe's testimony was finished, and it was on the 
following day, the 4th of March, when the entry in the journal, de- 
tailing the visit to the President and secretary, had been made by 
direction of the chairman, he announced that General Meade hap- 
pened to be in Washington, and the committee thereupon summoned 
General Meade to appear before it. 

On the 4th of March, therefore, General Meade was summoned 
to appear before the committee, and on the next day, the 5th of 
March, he appeared before it, as mentioned in his letter of the 6th 
of March. He there says, in that letter of the 6th of March, that 
upon presenting himself, in obedience to the summons of the com- 
mittee, he found present only Senator Wade, who denied that there 
were any charges against him, saying that the committee was merely 
making up a history of the war, and was now taking evidence to 
enable it to give an account of the battle of Gettysburg. Yet this 
gentleman who spoke was he who, with his colleague, had only three 
days before been to see the President and secretary, to request the 
removal for incompetency of General Meade from the command of 
the Army of the Potomac, and who, only two days before, had ordered 
the entry, as quoted, made in the journal immediately before he, as 
chairman, notified the committee that General Meade was in Wash- 

General Meade did, in truth, most inopportunely for the com- 


mittee, happen to be in Washington on other business than that in 
which he suddenly found himself involved. He had come there al- 
most providentially, as it seems, in a crisis in his affairs. Simultane- 
ously with the action of Messrs. Wade and Chandler, and on the 
very same day, Senator Wilkinson, of Minnesota, made a furious on- 
slaught upon him from his place in the Senate Chamber, but he was 
by a happy chance there in Washington, to confound his enemies and 
bring their machinations to naught. With that readiness of resource, 
and capacity of concentration, that characterized him, he was equal 
to the occasion so unexpectedly forced upon him. Thus was General 
Meade suddenly called upon, as much to his surprise, and as much 
without preparation, as when he was put in command of the Army 
of the Potomac, at Frederick, Maryland, on the 28th of June, 
1863, to prepare to fight what he afterward terms his "second 
battle of Gettysburg." Without the slightest preparation, with- 
out notes, memoranda, reports, or data of any kind, with which to 
refresh his memory, and with a mind preoccupied with other impor- 
tant and serious subjects, he gave his testimony before the com- 

Here the case may well rest, the evidence, irrefutable and conclu- 
sive, having been submitted. It may, however, in conclusion, be of 
interest to consider what may also be read between the lines of Mr. 
Wade's entry in the journal of the committee, regarding his and his 
colleague's conversation with the President as to General Meade's 
removal from command of the army. Mr. Lincoln's sagacity and 
honesty of purpose were evidently not at fault. His simple question 
as to whom they would advise him to choose as a successor to General 
Meade, clearly shows that he, at least, fully understood the gentle- 
men's anxiety "in behalf of the army and the country." Now, with 
the knowledge we have of Mr. Lincoln's fairness of character, and 
in spite of his known admiration for General Hooker, and in view of 
the fact that Meade was subsequently summoned before this com- 
mittee, a committee, by the way, of such a nature that, although it 
had a candidate of its own, it yet, through consciousness of guilt, did 
not dare to support him and consequently made the evasive reply to 
Lincoln's question above stated — in view of all this, another question 
suggests itself: may not Lincoln have rejoined to that evasive reply 
that it might be well to hear what Meade had to say for himself 
before condemning him upon the unsupported testimony of three 
generals who, to say the least, could not be considered the most im- 


partial witnesses, and before humiliating and disgracing in the eyes 
of the world that general who scarce nine months before had as- 
sumed, unseeking it, the command of the Army of the Potomac, 
and within a week thereafter had gained the victory of Gettys- 

This combined attack in the committee and the Senate upon 
General Meade, failing of its object, which was his removal, the 
committee proceeded to the further examination of the subject, hop- 
ing to produce so great a mass of damaging testimony as would 
render the committee's efforts on some future occasion more suc- 
cessful. That it did not eventually succeed was owing primarily to 
the integrity of Mr. Lincoln and his confidence in General Meade, 
and secondarily, as General Meade himself often subsequently re- 
marked, to the inability of all the clashing interests opposed to him 
to combine on one common choice for a successor. 

The animus displayed by the committee, as illustrated in the 
carefully discussed case, is a fair example of its course toward Gen- 
eral Meade throughout its whole existence. And it is not to be sup- 
posed that the members confined their operations to the inside of 
the committee room. Coming from different parts of the country, 
prominent and influential, with a numerous following, they doubt- 
less availed themselves of all the means at their command of dissem- 
inating the peculiar kind of information that best suited their object 
in view. Starting from Washington, the grand centre of all the low 
intrigues and wild rumors of which those days were so prolific, the 
information found its way to the outside world, to reappear, com- 
mented upon and exaggerated, in the various newspaper organs of 
each particular clique, manifesting itself in the constant sneers and in- 
nuendoes, constant misstatements and falsification of everything con- 
nected with the Army of the Potomac and himself, which so annoyed 
and harassed General Meade, and to which he makes so frequent 
allusion in his letters. The appointment of Lieutenant-General Grant 
to the command of all the armies of the United States, and his con- 
tinuous presence with the Army of the Potomac, caused the command 
of that army to cease to be a position so much to be sought after, 
and for a time the labors of the committee to be diverted to other 
fields; and it was not until the unfortunate affair of the Petersburg 
mine that it again directed its attention to General Meade, with what 
success will subsequently appear. In the meantime, however, so far 
as the press was concerned, the system of misrepresentation and 


ignoring General Meade's services continued, from force of habit 
and other causes, unabated. 1 

To Mrs. George G. Meade : 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, March 8, 1864. 
I am curious to see how you take the explosion of the conspiracy 
to have me relieved, for it is nothing less than a conspiracy, in which 
the Committee on the Conduct of the War, with Generals Double- 
day and Sickles, are the agents. Grant is to be in Washington to- 
night, and as he is to be commander in chief and responsible for the 
doings of the Army of the Potomac, he may desire to have his own 
man in command, particularly as I understand he is indoctrinated 
with the notion of the superiority of the Western armies, and that 
the failure of the Army of the Potomac to accomplish anything is 
due to their commanders. 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, March 9, 1864. 

I have answered Mr. Harding's note, likewise one from Cortlandt 
Parker, and numerous others I have received from sympathizing 
friends. To prepare a statement and furnish it to all my friends 
who are desirous of defending me would take too much time. Be- 
sides, I intend to await the action of the committee, give them a 
chance to do me justice, failing which I will publish a pamphlet giv- 
ing my side of the question. Yesterday's Tribune has a most violent 
attack on me, full of the basest and most malicious slanders, in which, 
not satisfied with attacking my military reputation, they impugn my 
loyalty and attribute expressions to me I never dreamed of using. 2 

Birney and Pleasanton have appeared in the hostile ranks. The 
latter's course is the meanest and blackest ingratitude; for I can 
prove, but for my intercession he would have been relieved long since. 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, March 10, 1864. 

The storm in which I have been involved seems to be subsiding, 

as I note the Tribune now says that no charges were preferred against 

me by General Sickles or Doubleday. Tell General Gibbon that I 

have received his letter, and am greatly obliged to him for his gal- 

1 For General Meade's testimony before the committee on the conduct of the 
war, see Appendix W. 

2 For article mentioned, see Appendix H. 


lantry and daring in coming out so boldly in my defense; but I do 
not wish him to compromise himself, and affairs are becoming com- 

I think I wrote you on my return from Washington I found a 
polite note from Reverdy Johnston, saying he had assumed the re- 
sponsibility of denying Mr. Wilkinson's statement, and asking me 
if he was not right. This act of courtesy I considered entitled to 
an acknowledgment, so I replied to Mr. Johnston, and explained to 
him wherein I thought Mr. Wilkinson had been misled. This letter, 
it appears, Mr. Johnston showed to his friends, and its receipt was 
announced in Forney's Chronicle. To-day I got a sharp letter from 
the Secretary of War, asking by what authority I wrote to Senators 
on military operations. I have replied my note was private and not 
intended for publication or circulation, and that I was not aware I 
required any authority to write private letters defending myself from 
the false and slanderous reports with which the public press has been 
filled for a week, particularly as the military operations referred to 
took place nine months ago, and the official reports have been pub- 
lished. This may involve me in trouble with the Secretary, but I 
cannot help it; I will not yield my right to defend myself. 

To-day Lieutenant General Grant arrived here. He has been 
very civil, and said nothing about superseding me. 

I go to-morrow to Washington, and shall go again before the 
committee, to add to my testimony. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, March 14, 1864. 
I wrote you, I think, on the evening of the 10th, the day Grant 
was here. It rained all that day, and as he could not see anything, 
he determined to return to Washington the next day. The President 
having invited both General Grant and myself to dinner on Saturday, 
the 12th, I had of course to go up to Washington, and as I wanted 
to add to my testimony to the committee, I concluded to go up with 
General Grant. When I arrived, I immediately went before the 
committee and filed documentary evidence to prove the correctness 
of my previous assertion that I never for an instant had any idea of 
fighting anywhere but at Gettysburg, as soon as I learned of Reyn- 
olds's collision and obtained information that the ground was suitable. 
Mr. Wade was the only member present. He took great pains to 
endeavor to convince me the committee were not responsible for the 
newspaper attacks on me, and I might rest assured there was no dis- 


position on their part to do me injustice. Afterwards I saw Mr. 
Stanton, who told me Mr. Wade had been to see him, and said my 
testimony was the clearest statement that had ever been made to 
the committee, and that, as far as he could see, it was perfectly satis- 
factory in explanation of all charges against me. I soon found the 
tide had turned in my favor, and that Sickles had overreached him- 
self. I also ascertained that Chandler and Wilkinson were my foes 
on the committee, that Wade was rather friendly, and that Harding, 
of the Senate, Gooch and Odell, of the House, were my warm friends. 

I think I wrote to you that the Secretary had officially inquired 
of me by what authority I had written to Hon. Reverdy Johnston, 
a Senator, about military affairs, and that I had replied to him I did 
not require any authority to write a private letter to a friend, de- 
fending myself from slanders. When I saw Mr. Stanton I referred 
to this matter, when he told me his letter had been written in my 
interest; that I had made a great mistake in writing to Mr. Johnston, 
who was showing it to everybody, and making it appear he was my 
chosen champion; and that his political status was such that any 
identification with him could not fail to damage me and my cause. 
He said he was aware of how I had been led into the step, and all he 
wanted was just such a reply as I had made, which he would now show 
to Senators and Representatives when they called on him to know 
what my relations were with Reverdy Johnston. I fortunately met 
Mr. Johnston in the street, begged him to consider my letter strictly 
private, and borrowed it to copy for file in the War Department. 

I think I told you I was very much pleased with General Grant. 
In the views he expressed to me he showed much more capacity and 
character than I had expected. I spoke to him very plainly about 
my position, offered to vacate the command of the Army of the 
Potomac, in case he had a preference for any other. This he de- 
clined in a complimentary speech, but indicated to me his intention, 
when in this part of the country, of being with my army. So that 
you may look now for the Army of the Potomac putting laurels on 
the brows of another rather than your husband. 

To Mr. Henry A. Cram, 1 New York: 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, March 15, 1864. 
I received your note in due course of mail, but was so busy at the 
time I could not reply. It was hardly necessary for you to write 

x Brother-in-law of Mrs. Meade. 


that you would do anything in my defense, because I shall always 
fully count on you in this way. I was glad to have your sympathy, 
because I am free to confess the suddenness of this attack, its inju- 
rious combination of several interests against me, that really have no 
particular cause of complaint, has in reality astounded me and for 
awhile I was embarrassed what to do. I believe now, however, I 
have produced a reaction in my behalf, simply by exposing the char- 
acter and motives of my assailants. I feared the Committee on the 
Conduct of the War was against me, and that their examination 
would be ex-parte ; to whic h their organization, the absence of myself 
or counsel, the ignorance I am under of what is testified against me, 
all combine to give great power for injury, if abused. Fortunately 
my friend Mr. Odell is on this committee, and although hitherto a 
great friend of my principal adversary, he is most indignant at the 
course pursued, and has entered heart and soul into the determina- 
tion to see justice done. Now this is all I ask, a thorough investiga- 
tion of the whole matter and the bringing out the truth. 

The ingenuity of my enemies, in the theory of their attack, is 
worthy of admiration. They acknowledge the battle of Gettysburg 
as one of the greatest victories the world has ever seen; but they ex- 
pect to prove that it was fought in opposition to all the plans I had 
formed; that I was all the time expecting disaster and issuing orders 
to retreat; in fine, that had I not been there, great as was the battle, 
it would have been far greater. Now, although I can tear away all 
this flimsy framework of argument in this operation, I shall have to 
expose that as a prudent general, whilst my orders were always look- 
ing to fighting, I did at times, in discussions, councils, preparatory 
orders, etc., hold in view the contingency of a reverse and endeavor 
to be prepared for it. This is the sum and substance of my offense, 
and I regret to say that, among a certain class of my fellow-country- 
men, this will be an offense and indicative of what they call too much 
caution, and being paralyzed by contingent reverses, proving that I 
did not have the dash and blundering audacity of others. 

My enemies consist of certain politicians who wish me removed 
to restore Hooker; then of certain subordinates, whose military repu- 
tations are involved in the destruction of mine; finally, a class of 
vultures who in Hooker's day preyed upon the army, and who sigh 
for a return of those glorious days. I expect to retain my place, but 
I am anxious about my reputation. 

A very good article has been sent to me in the new paper in your 


city called the Round Table. 1 I wish, if you know the editors, you 
would, in my name, thank them for their generous interposition in 
my behalf. I am of the opinion that the characters and motives of 
my assailants have been of immense benefit, in staying public judg- 
ment before I could reply. I should like to see that article repub- 
lished over the country, also one from the Times, which was no more 
personal, but discussed temperately the destruction of all subordina- 
tion and discipline in an army where the inferior generals were spies 
and critics of their commanding general. 

I think my testimony will pull the lion's skin off of some of my 
disguised foes, and that they will perhaps, before the thing is over, 
repent they ever meddled with it. Already the liars have disclaimed 
any intention to attack me, and in evidence produce the article in 
the Herald signed Historicus, which you have doubtless read, and 
which is filled with false and perverted statements, which have aston- 
ished even myself, and those around me, who have great respect for 
the capacity, adroitness and skill in this respect of my opponents. 2 

Give my love to Kate, 3 and tell her I shall come out of this last 
battle of Gettysburg with flying colors. 

To Mrs. George G. Meade: 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, March 16, 1864. 

My Gettysburg fight is at present in statu quo, except that I have 
enclosed to the War Department the letter from the New York 
Herald, of the 12th, signed Historicus, saying I believed it was writ- 
ten, or dictated, by General Sickles, and that I desire he may be 
called on to state whether he authorized it, or endorses it; and should 
he reply in the affirmative, I then ask for a court of inquiry. If the 
department is not disposed to accede to this, I then ask permission 
to make public such official documents as I deem necessary to my 

George 4 has gone to a ball to-night, given in the Fifth Corps. I 
thought I had better keep quiet at home, and not expose myself, as 
my cold, though better, still hangs about me. These balls were 
always against my judgment, and I see they are beginning to be ani- 
madverted on by those who are unfriendly to this army, and who are 
ready to catch at anything to find fault with. 

1 For article mentioned, see Appendix I. 

2 For article mentioned, see Appendix J. 

3 Wife of Mr. Cram. 4 Son of General Meade. 


As I told you, I was much pleased with Grant, and most agree- 
ably disappointed in his evidence of mind and character. You may 
rest assured he is not an ordinary man. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, March 18, 1864. 

I see General Grant's assuming command and announcing that 
his headquarters will be with the Army of the Potomac, is in the 
public journals, and by to-morrow will be known in Richmond. Of 
course this will notify the rebels where to look for active operations, 
and they will prepare accordingly. 

You need not think I apprehend any trouble about my being 
relieved. I don't think I have at any time been in any danger. It 
would be almost a farce to relieve the man who fought the battle 
of Gettysburg, nine months after the battle, not for retreating, not 
for ordering a retreat, but for preparing an order, which was never 
issued; for such is the last and most serious charge against me. 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, March 20, 1864. 
I have received a letter from Gibbon which has worried me a 
great deal. It is now evident that Butterfield, either intentionally 
or otherwise, misconstrued something that I said to him on the 2d 
of July into instructions to prepare an order to withdraw the army. 
To-be-sure, this order was never issued; it is also certain I never 
intended it to be prepared, much less issued. Nevertheless, the fact 
that he did prepare it, and, as he will swear, was ordered to do so, 
notwithstanding it was never issued, will operate against me, as people 
disposed to find fault will say I was all the time anticipating defeat, 
and hampered accordingly. God knows my conscience is clear that 
I never for a moment thought of retreating, although I presume I 
held in view the contingency that the enemy might compel me so to 
do, and I may have told Butterfield to familiarize himself with the 
roads, etc., so that if it became necessary we would be prepared to do 
it promptly and in good order. Out of this he has manufactured the 
lie that I intended at the time to do so. The falsehoods that have 
been uttered against me, and the evidence of a regular conspiracy 
which has been organizing almost since the date of the battle, make 
me heartsick. I believe now that Butterfield commenced deliber- 
ately, from the time I assumed command, to treasure up incidents, 
remarks and papers to pervert and distort in the future to my injury. 
How otherwise to account for his having a copy of this pretended 


order? Not only is no such order or paper found among the records 
of the Adjutant General's Office, but the clerks and others have no 
recollection of any order. 

It is hard that I am to suffer from the malice of such men as 
Sickles and Butterfield. 

Grant is expected here next Wednesday. He spoke very fairly 
when here last, and from all I can hear of what he has said of me 
to others, I ought to be satisfied, as I understand he expressed every 
confidence in me, and said no change would be made in the com- 
mand, as far as he was concerned. Still, he undoubtedly will have 
the power, and will exercise it, of bringing here such a force as will 
effect results that hitherto I have been unable to effect, and this will 
by the ignorant public be set down to his superior merit and quoted 
against me. However, I shall do my duty to the best of my ability, 
and trust to Providence. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, March 22, 1864. 

Grant is emphatically an executive man, whose only place is in 
the field. One object in coming here is to avoid Washington and its 
entourage. I intend to give him heartiest co-operation, and so far 
as I am able do just the same when he is present that I would do 
were he absent. 

Hancock is in Washington and will be down to-morrow. He was 
before the committee to-day. Humphreys has returned, having been 
before the committee, where he gave testimony about Gettysburg. 
Have you seen the article in the Herald, signed "Staff Officer, Fifth 
Corps," x and one in Monday's (yesterday's) paper signed by General 
Barnes? 2 I think Historicus after awhile will be sick of his only 
true and authentic account of the battle. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, March 24, 1864. 
I have been very busy to-day. The much-talked-of order for 
reorganizing the Army of the Potomac has at last appeared. Sykes, 
French and Newton are relieved. Sedgwick, Hancock and Warren 
command the three corps. This evening an order has arrived re- 
lieving General Pleasanton, which, although I did not originate it, 
yet was, I presume, brought about by my telling the Secretary that 
the opposition I had hitherto made to his removal I no longer should 

1 For article mentioned, see Appendix K. 

2 For article mentioned, see Appendix L. 


make. As the Secretary has been desirous of relieving him ever since 
I have had command, and I have been objecting, he has taken the 
first chance to remove him as soon as my objections were withdrawn. 

Grant arrived to-day. I met him at the depot near my head- 
quarters and accompanied him to Culpeper, where I spent several 
hours and returned. He was as affable as ever, and seems not at all 
disposed to interfere with my army in any details. 

I hear Butterfield is in Washington, and is going to swear that I 
told him to prepare an order to retreat, and from what Gibbon writes 
me, it is evident he did prepare such an order; but I trust by the 
concurrent testimony of every other officer on the field, the docu- 
mentary evidence in the shape of orders at different periods of the 
day, and my own sworn statement, to prove that the preparation of 
this order was not authorized by me, and that it was due to Butter- 
field's own fears. I understand the Secretary is very indignant at 
his coming to Washington, and has ordered him back to his post. 

Get the last number of the Spirit of the Times, in which there 
is a scathing article on Grant, Sherman, McPherson, Schofield and 
myself, and lauding, as usual, Joe Hooker. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, March 26, 1864. 

Pennie 1 arrived yesterday, looking very well and quite delighted 
with his journey and at getting to camp. Willie and Davy Whipple 
came with him. Unfortunately they came in a storm of rain, and 
although to-day has been blustering and raw, they have been out on 
horseback, commencing their sight seeing. This evening they have 
gone over to one of the neighboring camps, where the soldiers are 
going to have a negro minstrel exhibition. 

The weather has been so unpropitious that no inspection has been 
practicable by General Grant. I spent several hours with him yes- 
terday. He appears very friendly, and at once adopts all my sug- 
gestions. I believe Grant is honest and fair, and I have no doubt he 
will give me full credit for anything I may do, and if I don't deserve 
any, I don't desire it. 

I think I wrote you I had a long and friendly letter from Mr. 
Harding, in which he said he had seen Mr. Stanton, who told him of 
my letter in reference to Sickles, asking for a court of inquiry, which 
Mr. Stanton said he should not grant, for the reason that he did not 
deem one necessary; that I had been made a brigadier general in the 
regular army and thanked by Congress for my services at Gettysburg, 

1 Spencer Meade, son of General Meade. 


and that no attention should be paid to such a person as Sickles. 
Mr. Stanton told Mr. Harding he thought I was unnecessarily ner- 
vous about these attacks, and that I ought not to give them a 
thought. I, however, think differently, and do not believe in the 
policy of remaining quiet, under the false and slanderous charges of 
even the most insignificant. 

Tell Sargie 1 two copies of the famous "Life and Services of Major 
General Meade" have been sent me by the publishers. I had no 
idea my services would take up so much printing matter. I must 
confess I think a little more space might be given to my services 
prior to the Rebellion. I always thought my services in the construc- 
tion of lighthouses, and subsequently on the Lake Survey, were of 
considerable importance. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, 

Easter Sunday, March 27, 1864. 

Your letter of the 25th inst. arrived this afternoon. I am very 
much distressed to hear of Sergeant's continued weakness. As to 
my going home, that is utterly out of the question. You must not 
expect to see me till next winter, unless, as before, I am brought 
home on a litter. Whatever occurs, I shall not voluntarily leave the 

We have had most interesting services to-day by Bishop Whipple, 
who administered the Holy Communion to quite a number of officers 
and soldiers, hastily collected from the staff and the detachments on 
duty at these headquarters. We had afternoon services, and after- 
wards the bishop and his assistant, with General Seth Williams, dined 
with me. The bishop brought down with him a magnificent bouquet 
of flowers, with which our rude altar was adorned. The bishop is a 
most interesting man, about forty years of age, but full of life and 
energy. He preached two most appropriate and impressive dis- 
courses, well adapted to all classes of his hearers. 

General Grant went up to Washington to-day, expecting to return 
to-morrow. You do not do Grant justice, and I am sorry to see it. 
You do not make a distinction between his own acts and those forced 
on him by the Government, Congress and public opinion. If left to 
himself, I have no doubt Grant would have let me alone; but placed 
in the position he holds, and with the expectations formed of him, if 
operations on a great scale are to be carried on here, he could not 
well have kept aloof. As yet he has indicated no purpose to inter- 

1 Son of General Meade. 


fere with me; on the contrary, acts promptly on all my suggestions, 
and seems desirous of making his stay here only the means of strength- 
ening and increasing my forces. God knows I shall hail his advent 
with delight if it results in carrying on operations in the manner 
I have always desired they should be carried on. Cheerfully will I 
give him all credit if he can bring the war to a close. 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, March 29, 1864. 

Spencer 1 and the Whipple boys continue to enjoy themselves. 
Yesterday was a fine day, and they rode over with me to Hancock's, 
some five miles. We then rode to Culpeper Court House, five miles, 
where I met General Grant, just from Washington. After which we 
returned to headquarters, a distance of six miles, making in all six- 
teen miles for the day's riding. En route the boys ascended Pony 
Mountain, a hill of some five hundred feet elevation, near Culpeper, 
on which we have a signal station and a fine telescope, and from 
whence you have a good view of the country, the rebel lines, camps, 
etc. At night Pennie was pretty well fatigued. But this morning 
he was up bright and early, and started with me, before eight o'clock, 
to go to Culpeper, where General Grant reviewed two divisions of 
infantry, and one of cavalry. It commenced to rain, however, during 
the review, which curtailed the ceremonies, and after spending an 
hour with Grant, we returned home in the rain. I borrowed an india 
rubber poncho for Pennie, so that he came back dry, but on the way 
his horse, and Willie Whipple's, became excited and started off with 
them at full speed. The boys, however, kept their seats beautifully 
till George 2 and an orderly headed off the horses and stopped them. 

Grant continues very affable and quite confidential. He laughs 
at the statement in the papers of his remarks about balls, etc., and 
says he will be happy to attend any innocent amusement we may get 
up, he including among these horse races, of which he is very fond. 

I join with you in the regret expressed at the relief of Sykes. I 
tried very hard to retain Sykes, Newton, and even French, as divi- 
sion commanders, but without avail. I had very hard work to retain 
Sedgwick. As to Pleasanton, his being relieved was entirely the 
work of Grant and Stanton. 

I hear Butterfield has been swearing terribly against me. I shall 
go up day after to-morrow to meet his charges. 

It is storming now violently. 

1 Son of General Meade. 2 Son of General Meade. 


Washington, D. C, April 1, 1864. 
I came up yesterday with Grant, am going to-day before the 
committee to answer Dan Butterfield's falsehoods. Shall return to- 
morrow. I am all right, and every one is most civil to me. I will 
write more fully on my return. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, April 2, 1864. 

I left Washington this morning, bidding dear Pennie 1 good-bye at 
the hotel, which he was to leave half an hour after me. He has had a 
a pretty pleasant time, and his visit has been a source of great hap- 
piness to me. 

I enclose you a letter I addressed the Department, 2 with an auto- 
graph reply from the President. 3 I feel quite sure the President 
meant to be very kind and complimentary in paying me the distin- 
guished honor of writing a reply in his own hand, and under this 
conviction I am bound to be satisfied. You will perceive, however, 
that the main point of my request is avoided, namely, my desire 
that the letter of Historicus should be submitted, with my letter, to 
General Sickles, and if he acknowledged or endorsed it, then I wished 
a court of inquiry, not otherwise. However, Mr. Stanton told me 
the true reason, which was that it was concluded submitting the 
letter to Sickles was only playing into his hands; that a court of 
inquiry, if called at my request, although it might exonerate me, yet 
it would not necessarily criminate him; and that, on the whole, it 
was deemed best not to take any action. Butterfield, I hear, was 
very bitter in his testimony, and made wonderful revelations. I 
went before the committee yesterday and replied only to his assertion 
that I instructed him to draw up an order to retreat. This I em- 
phatically denied; also denied any knowledge of his having drawn 
up such an order; presented documentary evidence to show that, if 
I had any such idea, that my orders and despatches were contradic- 
tory, and referred to numerous officers who ought to have and would 
have known if I entertained any idea of the kind. 4 

I find I have three warm friends on the committee — Odell of New 

1 Spencer Meade, son of General Meade. 

2 For letter mentioned, see Appendix M. 

3 For letter mentioned, see Appendix N. 

4 This attack on General Meade was continued until long after the war, and even 
after his death, when, in defence of General Meade, Colonel Meade published in 
1883 a pamphlet entitled, "Did General Meade Desire to Retreat at the Battle 
of Gettysburg?" For pamphlet, see Appendix Y. 


York, Gooch of Massachusetts, and Harding of Oregon. It is be- 
lieved Wade, of Ohio, is favorably inclined. If either he or one of 
the others should prove so, it would make a majority in my favor. 
Old Zach Chandler is my bitterest foe and will show me no quarter. 
While going up to Washington I had a long and satisfactory talk 
with Grant, who has expressed himself and acted towards me in the 
most friendly manner. Among other things he said he heard Horace 
Greeley had been in Washington, demanding my removal, and that 
Thomas be brought here. Grant said, if he saw Greeley he should 
tell him that when he wanted the advice of a political editor in se- 
lecting generals, he would call on him. The President, Secretary, 
indeed every one I met, were civil and affable to me. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, April 4, 1864. 
If you believe all you see in the papers about Grant, you will be 
greatly deceived. All that I have seen are pure inventions. I mean 
such stories as his being opposed to reviews, balls, etc., having given 
orders to stop them; of inviting soldiers into his car; of announcing 
his displeasure at the luxury of the officers of the Army of the 
Potomac, that all he wanted was soldiers' fare, pork and beans; of 
the enthusiasm with which he is received by the soldiers, etc., etc. All 
these are humbugs, and known to the writers to be without founda- 
tion, but are persistently put forth for some purpose unknown. When 
he first came down he said he wished to keep out of Washington as 
much as possible, and it was his intention while in this part of the 
country to remain with my army, and he asked me where he could 
find a good house for his headquarters. I told him his only chance 
was either in Warrenton or Culpeper; that the former was rather 
out of the way, and that I thought he could readily get one in the 
latter place, which he did; whereupon the newspapers announced 
him as establishing his headquarters eight miles nearer the enemy 
than even I did. Not content with puffing him, they must have a 
fling at me. Grant is very much annoyed at the foolish way they are 
mentioning his name; but it is a matter he cannot very well notice. 
As I have before told you, he is very well disposed towards me, 
and has talked very freely and properly about my particular friends 
Hooker, Sickles and Butterfield. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, April 6, 1864. 
General Grant returned yesterday, and I have seen him to-day. 
Nothing new or important has transpired. 


General Hunt has been up to Washington and before the com- 
mittee. He says, after questioning him about the famous order of 
July 2, and his telling them he never heard of it, and from his posi- 
tion and relations with me would certainly have heard of it, they went 
to work and in the most pettifogging way, by a cross-examination, 
tried to get him to admit such an order might have been issued with- 
out his knowing anything about it. This, after my testimony, and 
that of Warren, Hancock, Gibbon and Hunt, evidently proves they 
are determined to convict me, in spite of testimony, and that Butter- 
field's perjury is to outweigh the testimony of all others. I suppose 
you have seen the last effusion of Historicus. There is no doubt 
now about the author, as he quotes a private letter from Birney, 
which could not have been written to any one but Sickles. The best 
joke is that Barnes, it is said, has a letter from Birney, denying that 
he ever made any statements of the kind quoted in his letter to His- 
toricus. Is it not too bad that one's reputation should be in the 
hands of such men? 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, April 8, 1864. 
The New York Tribune of yesterday informs the world it has been 
positively ascertained that I am and have been in constant corre- 
spondence with McClellan, and that this fact has destroyed all my 
chances for nomination as major general in the regular army, but it 
is not believed it will remove me from command. I know where this 
canard comes from. Grant told me that he had received several 
visits and innumerable letters from that old crazy man Gurowsky, 
all to the effect that I was completely under the influence of McClel- 
lan, and in constant correspondence with him, and urging Grant to 
relieve me. I saw Historicus's last effort, and was greatly amused 
at the very powerful position that he assigned me in the despotism 
he asserts I have exercised in the face of the lieutenant general and 
others. 1 I am sure I ought to be flattered that I am allowed to 
exercise such powers. It is a redeeming trait in the powers that be, 
and in my countrymen, that the base and persistent attacks on me 
have so signally failed, principally from the bad standing of my as- 
sailants. As to my being nominated for the regular army, I never 
dreamed of it, though I always believed the secret of some of the 
attacks on me was to remove a rival from some one who did want 
and expected to be nominated. 

1 For article mentioned, see Appendix O. For General Meade's letter to 
Colonel G. G. Benedict, of March 16, 1870, on the battle of Gettysburg, see 
Appendix V. 


I think it a pity Philadelphia was so late in getting up its fair. 
The subject will be so thoroughly exhausted that people will be tired 
with such matters. Still, there seems to be great spirit evinced by 
those who have it in charge. 

I have now as a guest Lieutenant Colonel Strave, of the Russian 
Engineers, who seems a young man of intelligence. He came down 
with letters from Mr. Seward and Mr. Stanton. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, April 11, 1864. 
There is no doubt General Birney is scared at the turn things 
have taken in the Sickles matter, for I received a note from Hancock, 
the other day, saying Birney had been to see him, disclaiming being 
a partisan of Sickles, and saying he would like to come and see me to 
explain matters, but did not like to do so without some intimation 
on my part that it would be agreeable. I replied to Hancock that 
I was not aware of there being any occasion for explanation on the 
part of General Birney, as I had heard nothing except what I had 
seen in the papers about his testimony, and that he had denied in 
writing. At the same time I was always ready to see General Birney 
whenever he chose to do me the honor to call. 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, April 13, 1864. 
Grant has not given an order, or in the slightest degree inter- 
fered with the administration of this army since he arrived, and I 
doubt if he knows much more about it now than he did before com- 
ing here. It is undoubtedly true he will go with it when it moves, 
and will in a measure control its movements, and should success at- 
tend its operations, that my share of the credit will be less than if he 
were not present. Moreover, whilst I have no doubt he will give 
me all the credit I am entitled to, the press, and perhaps the public, 
will lose sight of me in him. Nevertheless he is so much more active 
than his predecessor, and agrees so well with me in his views, I can- 
not but be rejoiced at his arrival, because I believe success to be the 
more probable from the above facts. My position before, with in- 
adequate means, no power myself to increase them, and no effort 
made by others to do so, placed me in a false position, causing me 
to be held responsible, when in fact I could do nothing. My duty is 
plain, to continue quietly to discharge my duties, heartily co-operating 
with him and under him. 


Headquarters Army of the Potomac, April 16, 1864. 

General Grant returned yesterday. The papers will tell you I 
was present the other day when Hancock reviewed Birney's division, 
and the next day, when he reviewed Carr's and Gibbon's divisions. 
These troops all looked splendidly, and seemed, officers and men, in 
fine spirits. 

The reorganization, now that it is over, meets with universal 
approbation, and I believe I have gained great credit for the manner 
in which so disagreeable an operation was made acceptable to those 
concerned. Even General Birney, of the smashed up Third Corps, 
is, I believe, reconciled. 

How much I should like to see you all. At times I feel very de- 
spondent about the termination of this war and the prospect of my 
return, but I try to keep up my spirits and hope for the best. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, April 18, 1864. 

I had an interview with General Birney to-day, who disclaimed 
ever having entertained unfriendly feelings towards me, or being a 
partisan of Sickles, and expressed the hope he would be permitted 
to serve under me. I listened to all he had to say, but made no 
reply, except that I had never heard he had any unfriendly feelings 
towards me. 

To-day Grant reviewed the Sixth Corps (Sedgwick's). It was a 
fine day, and the men looked and marched finely. Grant expressed 
himself highly pleased, and is quite astonished at our system and 

I see a letter I wrote to a Mr. Bond, Chairman of Committee on 
Labor, Income and Revenue, has already gotten into the papers. I 
declare I am almost afraid to put pen to paper, when writing to any 
one but you. I had supposed that my present humble position 
would shield me from getting into print, and that letters from Grant 
only would be of value. You would be amused to see the worship- 
ping of the rising sun by certain officers in this army; but Grant 
behaves very handsomely, and immediately refers to me all the let- 
ters and communications he gets from my subordinates, who apply 
to him when they have axes to grind. I have received a letter from 
General Lee, enclosing photographic copies of the papers found on 
Colonel Dahlgren, and asking whether these papers were authorized, 
sanctioned or approved by the Government of the United States, 
or Colonel Dahlgren's superior officers. This was a pretty ugly 


piece of business; for in denying having authorized or approved "the 
burning of Richmond, or killing Mr. Davis and Cabinet," I neces- 
sarily threw odium on Dahlgren. I, however, enclosed a letter from 
Kilpatrick, in which the authenticity of the papers was impugned; 
but I regret to say Kilpatrick's reputation, and collateral evidence 
in my possession, rather go against this theory. However, I was 
determined my skirts should be clear, so I promptly disavowed hav- 
ing ever authorized, sanctioned or approved of any act not required 
by military necessity, and in accordance with the usages of war. 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, April 24, 1864. 

Cram and John Cadwalader arrived yesterday afternoon. To-day 
Cram went to church with me, where we heard an excellent sermon 
from a Mr. Adams, a distinguished Presbyterian clergyman from 
New York. After church I drove Cram and Cadwalader to Culpeper, 
where we paid a visit to General Grant. After coming away, I plainly 
saw Cram was disappointed. Grant is not a striking man, is very 
reticent, has never mixed with the world, and has but little manner, 
indeed is somewhat ill at ease in the presence of strangers; hence a 
first impression is never favorable. His early education was un- 
doubtedly very slight; in fact, I fancy his West Point course was 
pretty much all the education he ever had, as since his graduation 
I don't believe he has read or studied any. At the same time, he has 
natural qualities of a high order, and is a man whom, the more you 
see and know him, the better you like him. He puts me in mind of 
old Taylor, and sometimes I fancy he models himself on old Zac. 

Yesterday I sent my orderly with old Baldy to Philadelphia. He 
will never be fit again for hard service, and I thought he was entitled 
to better care than could be given to him on the march. 

I have just had a visit from a very intelligent young Englishman, 
named Stanley, a son of Lord Stanley, of Alderney. He is no rela- 
tive, I believe, to the Earl of Derby, though his father is in the 
Ministry as Secretary for the Colonies. He is quite young (only 
twenty-four) but highly educated, very smart and clever, and full 
of information. He brought me a letter from Mr. Seward, and 
spent a day with us seeing the army sights. 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, April 26, 1864. 
I have had a very satisfactory time with Cram, and am sorry he 
and Cadwalader are going back. I have sent by Mr. Cadwalader, 


who will stop in Philadelphia and give it to you, a copy of my testi- 
mony before the committee. You must keep this private and sacred. 
If anything should happen to me, you will have the means of showing 
to the world what my defense was. 

My relations with Grant continue friendly and confidential, and 
I see no disposition on his part to take advantage of his position. 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, May 1, 1864. 

I am sorry for your trouble about the generals. Augur happened 
to be in my tent when I received your letter, and I told him of your 
distress. He said if you would send him the names of those you 
wished, he thought he could get their photographs for you. I will 
ask Sheridan for his. He is our new cavalry commander, and quite 

I have to-night a note from a Mrs. Brown, 1113 Girard Street, on 
the Dry Goods Committee, asking for a lock of my hair, but I have 
been compelled to decline on the ground of the shortness of my locks. 

The weather continues fine, and the time approaches for active 
operations. Some indications would lead to the belief that Lee will 
take the initiative, but I can hardly believe he will be so blind to 
the experience of the two past campaigns. The defensive policy is 
clearly the true one for him; still, he may not think so. 

I don't think I told you I had a visit from Mr. Sypher, formerly 
a correspondent of the Inquirer, but afterwards of the Tribune. He 
is a great friend of Thaddeus Stevens, and lives in the same house 
with him in Washington. He told me Mr. Stevens was a firm friend 
of mine, and recently, when some member was attacking me in con- 
versation, he brought against me the charge that I was an aristocrat. 
Mr. Stevens laughed and said he knew all about my family, and he 
wished the country had more such aristocrats. 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, May 3, 1864. 
I send herewith original letter recently received from General Lee, 
which you can give to Pennie, 1 as it has General Lee's autograph, and 
on the envelope an original endorsement by Jeb Stuart, the great 
reb. cavalry general. 

I also enclose you a printed copy of an address issued to-day by 
me to the army. To-morrow we move. I hope and trust we will 
be successful, and so decidedly successful as to bring about a termina- 
1 Spencer Meade, son of General Meade. 


tion of this war. If hard fighting will do it, I am sure I can rely on 
my men. They are in fine condition and in most excellent spirits, 
and will do all that men can do to accomplish the object. The enemy 
have had time, I expect, to bring up all available reinforcements. 
This is all the better for us, if we succeed, as it will make the battle 
and victory more decisive. The telegraph will convey to you the 
first intelligence, though I shall endeavor to keep you posted. I beg 
of you to be calm and resigned, to place full trust in the mercy of our 
heavenly Father, who has up to this time so signally favored us, and 
the continuance of whose blessing we should earnestly pray for. Do 
not fret, but be cheerful, and go about and do just as if nothing was 
going on, and above all things don't anticipate evil; it will come 
time enough. Give my love to all the dear children. I shall think 
a great deal of you and them, notwithstanding the excitement of my 
duties. I feel quiet and determined, satisfied I have ever striven to 
do my duty to the best of my ability, and believing that in time pos- 
terity will do justice to my career. Good-by ! God bless and protect 
us all! 

"Address" mentioned in last letter: 

Head-Quarters, Army of the Potomac, May 4, 1864. 

Again you are called upon to advance on the enemies of your 
country. The time and the occasion are deemed opportune by your 
Commanding General to address you a few words of confidence and 

You have been re-organized, strengthened and fully equipped in 
every respect. You form a part of the several armies of your coun- 
try, the whole under the direction of an able and distinguished Gen- 
eral, who enjoys the confidence of the government, the people and 
the army. Your movement being in co-operation with others, it is 
of the utmost importance that no effort should be left unspared to 
make it successful. 

Soldiers! the eyes of the whole country are looking with anxious 
hope to the blow you are about to strike in the most sacred cause 
that ever called men to arms. 

Remember your homes, your wives and children, and bear in 
mind that the sooner your enemies are overcome, the sooner you 
will be returned to enjoy the benefits and blessings of peace. Bear 


with patience the hardships and sacrifices you will be called upon 
to endure. Have confidence in your officers and in each other. Keep 
your ranks on the march and on the battlefield, and let each man 
earnestly implore God's blessing and endeavor by his thoughts and 
actions to render himself worthy of the favor he seeks. With clear 
consciences and strong arms, actuated by a high sense of duty, fight- 
ing to preserve the Government and the institutions handed down 
to us by our forefathers — if true to ourselves — victory, under God's 
blessing, must and will attend our efforts. 1 

Geo. G. Meade, 
Official: Major General Commanding. 

Assistant Adjutant-General. 

To Mrs. George G. Meade: 

Battle-field, Spottyslvania Court House, May 11 — 9 a. m. 

I have only time to tell you we are all safe — that is, George 2 and 
myself — and as far as I know, all your friends, except General Wads- 
worth, who fell into the hands of the enemy, mortally wounded, 
without hopes of life. 

We have been fighting continuously for six days, and have gotten, 
I think, decidedly the better of the enemy, though their resistance is 
most stubborn. 

Return thanks to the Almighty for the gracious protection ex- 
tended to us, and let us try to deserve its continuance. 

I am quite well and in good spirits, and hope we shall continue 
to be successful and bring this unhappy war to an honorable close. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, 

May 12, 1864—2 o'clock, p. m. 

A severe battle is raging, with the advantages thus far on our side. 
We have captured to-day over thirty guns, four thousand prisoners, 
including three generals. The enemy are strongly posted and en- 
trenched, which, with their desperation, makes the struggle stub- 

1 The advance which was about to be made is known as the "Virginia Campaign 
of 1864." It consisted of stubborn, continuous fighting, with frightful losses. 
The Army of the Potomac had been reorganized and reinforced to an aggregate 
of 127,471 men (O. R.). The Army of Northern Virginia had an aggregate of 
about 80,000 men. 

2 Son of General Meade. 


Headquahters Army of the Potomac, 8 a. m., May 13, 1864. 
By the blessing of God I am able to announce not only the safety 
of George 1 and myself, but a decided victory over the enemy, he hav- 
ing abandoned last night the position he so tenaciously held yester- 
day. Eight days of continuous fighting have thus resulted with the 
loss to the enemy of over thirty guns and eight thousand prisoners. 
Our losses have been frightful; I do not like to estimate them. Those 
of the enemy fully as great. Our work is not over, but we have the 
prestige of success, which is everything, and I trust our final success 
will be assured. I have not time to write much. God's blessing 
be with you and the dear children! Pray earnestly for our success. 

Spottsylvania Court House Battle-field, May 15, 9 p. m. 
A lull in the roar of battle enables me to write you a few lines. 
It has been raining hard, both yesterday and to-day, putting the 
roads in such condition as to compel both armies to keep still — a rest 
that the men on both sides were glad to have. I do not see the papers, 
and therefore cannot tell how true their accounts are, and I have not 
time to give you any details. I think we have gained decided ad- 
vantages over the enemy; nevertheless, he confronts us still, and, 
owing to the strong position he occupies, and the works he is all the 
time throwing up, the task of overcoming him is a very difficult one, 
taxing all our energies. I send you a letter received from the Secre- 
tary of War, for safe keeping, as it shows I am not utterly ignored 
by the Department. General Grant showed me a despatch he had 
written to the War Department, speaking in complimentary terms 
of my services, and asking I be made a major general in the regular 
army. I told him I was obliged to him for his good opinion, but that 
I asked and expected nothing from the Government, and that I did 
not myself attach any importance to being in the regular army, so 
long as I held an equal rank in the volunteer service. What the 
result will be I cannot tell. 

May 16, 9 a. m. 
The weather still continues unfavorable for military operations, 
so, unless the enemy attack us, we shall probably remain quiet to-day. 
Our cavalry, under Sheridan, have been heard from. He was sent 
to get in the enemy's rear, destroy their communications and sup- 
plies, fight their cavalry, and when his forage was exhausted, make 
1 Son of General Meade. 


his way to Butler, 1 on the James River. He reports having executed 
his orders, and it is said that J. E. B. Stuart was killed in the battle 
with Sheridan. 2 

"Letter" and "despatch" mentioned in last letter: 

Stanton to Meade (in part) : 

Washington City, May 12, 1864. 

This department congratulates you and your heroic Army and 
returns its cordial thanks for their gallant achievements during the 
last seven days, and hopes that the valor and skill thus far mani- 
fested will be crowned with the fruits of ultimate and decisive vic- 

Grant to Stanton (in part) : 

May 13, 1864. 

General Meade has more than met my most sanguine expecta- 
tions. He and Sherman are the fittest officers for large commands 
I have come in contact with. If their services can be rewarded by 
promotion to the ranks of major-generals in the regular army the 
honor would be worthily bestowed, and I would feel personally 
gratified. I would not like to see one of these promotions at this 
time without seeing both. 

To Mrs. George G. Meade : 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, May 17, 1864. 

To-morrow we shall begin fighting again, with, I trust, some de- 
cided result, for it is hardly natural to expect men to maintain with- 
out limit the exhaustion of such a protracted struggle as we have 
been carrying on. 

The last few days have given our men rest, and the arrival of 
reinforcements has put them in good spirits. There is a determina- 
tion on all sides to fight it out, and have an end put to the war; a 
result which I think will most certainly be accomplished if we can 
overcome the army before us. 

I received to-day a kind letter from Mr. Gerhard, 3 written from 
his sick room, and informing me of the generosity of kind friends in 

1 General Benjamin F. Butler, commanding the Army of the James. 

2 Battle of Yellow Tavern, near Richmond, Va., May 11, 1864. 

3 Benjamin Gerhard, brother-in-law of Mrs. Meade. 


Philadelphia, who had subscribed to pay for your house in DeLancey 
Place. I have replied to Mr. Gerhard, and whilst I have tried to 
express my sense of the generosity of my friends, I have declined the 
gift, believing that, under existing circumstances, it would not be 
proper in me to accept. At the same time I have said if it should be 
God's will that I should fall in this war, then anything to assist you 
and my orphans would be most gratefully and thankfully received. 
I hope you will approve of my course, and that my feelings will be 
understood. It would not do to lose our independence, and I don't 
think we would be comfortable in a house bought with our friends' 

I have been riding all day, getting ready for to-morrow's battle. 
I shall now retire to rest, earnestly praying God to protect us, and 
give victory to our side. 1 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, May 19, 1864. 

All goes on well up to this time. We did not have the big battle 
which I expected yesterday, as, on advancing, we found the enemy 
so strongly entrenched that even Grant thought it useless to knock 
our heads against a brick wall, and directed a suspension of the at- 
tack. We shall now try to manoeuvre again, so as to draw the enemy 
out of his stronghold, and hope to have a fight with him before he 
can dig himself into an impregnable position. 

We have recent Richmond papers containing Lee's congratula- 
tory address to his army, so you see both sides claim having gained 
the advantage. Lee, however, seems to think they have gained their 
point when they check us. 

Yesterday I had a visit from Senators Sherman, of Ohio, and 
Sprague, of Rhode Island; both were very complimentary to me, 
and wished me to know that in Washington it was well understood 
these were my battles. I told them such was not the case; that at 
first I had manceuvered the army, but that gradually, and from the 
very nature of things, Grant had taken the control; and that it would 
be injurious to the army to have two heads. I see one of the news- 
paper men is puzzled to know what share we each have in the work, 
and settles it by saying Grant does the grand strategy, and I the 
grand tactics. Coppee in his Army Magazine says, "the Army of 

1 Battle of the Wilderness, May 5-7, 1864. Battle of Spottsylvania Court 
House, May 8-18, 1864. Federal loss — killed, wounded, and missing — May 5-21, 
1864—39,791 (O. R.). 


the Potomac, directed by Grant, commanded by Meade, and led by 
Hancock, Sedgwick and Warren/ ' which is a quite good distinction, 
and about hits the nail on the head. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, 8 a. m., May 23, 1864. 

We expected yesterday to have another battle, but the enemy 
refuses to fight unless attacked in strong entrenchments; hence, 
when we moved on his flank, instead of coming out of his works and 
attacking us, he has fallen back from Spottsylvania Court House, 
and taken up a new position behind the North Anna River; in other 
words, performed the same operation which I did last fall, when I 
fell back from Culpeper, and for which I was ridiculed; that is to 
say, refusing to fight on my adversary's terms. I suppose now we 
will have to repeat this turning operation, and continue to do so, till 
Lee gets into Richmond. 

I am sorry you will not change your opinion of Grant. I think 
you expect too much of him. I don't think he is a very magnanimous 
man, but I believe he is above any littleness, and whatever injustice 
is done me, and it is idle to deny that my position is a very unjust 
one, I believe is not intentional on his part, but arises from the force 
of circumstances, and from that weakness inherent in human nature 
which compels a man to look to his own interests. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, May 24, 9 a. m., 1864. 

We have manceuvered the enemy away from their strong position 
on the Po, near Spottsylvania Court House, and now have compelled 
them to fall back from the North Anna River, which they tried to 
hold. Yesterday Warren and Hancock both had engagements with 
them, and were successful. We undoubtedly have the morale over 
them, and will eventually, I think, compel them to go into Rich- 
mond; after that, nous xenons. 

I am writing this letter in the House of God, used for general 
headquarters. What a scene and commentary on the times! 1 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, 9 a. m., May 25, 1864. 
Yours of the 21st reached me this morning, also one from your 
mother to the same effect, that it was too late to refuse the house. 
Setting aside the injustice to me of placing the affair in such condi- 

1 Battle of North Anna. Federal loss — killed, wounded, and missing — May 
22-31, 1864—1,607 (O. R.). 


tion that I have no option in the matter, I have written a letter to 
Mr. Gerhard, which I enclose, and which you can hand to him at 
such time as may be deemed suitable. My contributing friends 
must know there was nothing personal in my action, because I do 
not know the name of a single contributor. I acted on the general 
principle I have always held, that a public man makes a mistake 
when he allows his generous friends to reward him with gifts. I wrote 
Mr. Gerhard it was not a case of necessity, as, by proper economy, 
we could and should live on our means; that if anything should hap- 
pen to me, then I would be grateful for the smallest assistance given 
to you and the children; but until that time, I thought it better for 
me to preserve my independence, although no one could be more 
sensible to and grateful for the generous kindness of my friends than 
I was. My opinions are still unchanged; but if the affair is settled, 
and it is too late to decline, I have no disposition to be ungenerous, 
and certainly no design of doing anything that would be offensive 
to the feelings of those who have been so kind to me. You can there- 
fore take the house, and express to all you know my deep obligation 
and sincere gratitude. 

The enemy, though he has fallen back, still confronts us, and is 
being reinforced. 

South Side op Pamunkey River, Hanovertown, 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, 10 a. m., May 29, 1864. 

We have crossed the Pamunkey, and are now within eighteen 
miles of Richmond. Lee has fallen back from the North Anna, and 
is somewhere between us and Richmond. We shall move forward 
to-day to feel for him. We are getting on very well, and I am in 
hopes will continue to manoeuvre till we compel Lee to retire into 
the defense of Richmond, when the grand decisive fight will come off, 
which I trust will bring the war to a close, and that it will be victory 
for us. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, May 30, 1864. 
We are within sixteen miles of Richmond, working our way along 
slowly but surely. I expect we shall be a long while getting in, but 
I trust through the blessing of God we will at last succeed, and if 
we do, I think, from the tone of the Southern press, and the talk of 
the prisoners, that they will be sensible enough to give it up. They 
are now fighting cautiously, but desperately, disputing every inch 
of ground, but confining themselves exclusively to the defensive. 


Headquarters Army op the Potomac, 6 p. m., June 1, 1864. 

We are pegging away here, and gradually getting nearer and 
nearer to Richmond, although its capture is yet far off. Our ad- 
vance is within two miles of Mechanicsville, which, if you remember, 
is the place where the fighting commenced in the Seven Days. The 
rebs keep taking up strong positions and entrenching themselves. 
This compels us to move around their flank, after trying to find some 
weak point to attack. This operation has now occurred four times, 
namely, crossing the Rapidan, at Old Wilderness, at Spottsylvania 
Court House, and recently at North Anna. We shall have to do it 
once more before we get them into their defenses at Richmond, and 
then will begin the tedious process of a quasi-siege, like that at 
Sebastopol; which will last as long, unless we can get hold of their 
railroads and cut off their supplies, when they must come out and 

Whilst I am writing the cannon and musketry are rattling all 
along our lines, over five miles in extent, but we have become so 
accustomed to these sounds that we hardly notice them. 

The weather is beginning to be hot, but I keep in the saddle during 
the day, and sleep soundly at night. 

The papers are giving Grant all the credit of what they call suc- 
cesses; I hope they will remember this if anything goes wrong. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, 8 a. m., June 4, 1864. 

I have only time to write you that we had a big battle yesterday, 
on the field of the old Gaines's Mill battle-ground, with the positions 
of the contending forces reversed. The battle ended without any 
decided results, we repulsing all attacks of the enemy and they doing 
the same; losses estimated about equal on both sides; ours roughly 
estimated at seven thousand five hundred in all. 1 

I had immediate and entire command on the field all day, the 
Lieutenant General honoring the field with his presence only about 
one hour in the middle of the day. The papers will, however, un- 
doubtedly inform you of all his doings, and I will therefore confine 
myself to mine. 

George 2 , myself, and all your friends, are well and unhurt. The 
enemy, as usual, were strongly fortified, and we have pretty well 

1 Battle of Cold Harbor. Federal loss — killed, wounded, and missing — June 
2-10, 1864—13,153 (O. R.). 

2 Son of General Meade. 


entrenched ourselves. How long this game is to be played it is im- 
possible to tell; but in the long run, we ought to succeed, because 
it is in our power more promptly to fill the gaps in men and material 
which this constant fighting produces. 

Baldy Smith's corps has joined, and he is placed under my orders. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, 9 p. m., June 5, 1864. 

Since our last battle on the 3d inst. we have been comparatively 
quiet. The enemy has tried his hand once or twice at the offensive, 
and in each case has been repulsed and severely punished. This 
evening, after dark, he made a furious attack, but was everywhere 
repulsed. The sound of the artillery and musketry has just died 
away. Indeed, we are pretty much engaged all the time, from early 
in the morning till late at night. I don't believe the military his- 
tory of the world can afford a parallel to the protracted and severe 
fighting which this army has sustained for the last thirty days. You 
would suppose, with all this severe fighting, our severe losses, con- 
stant marches, many in the night, that the physical powers of the 
men would be exhausted. I have no doubt in time it will tell on 
them, but as yet they show no evidences of it. 

I feel a satisfaction in knowing that my record is clear, and that 
the results of this campaign are the clearest indications I could wish of 
my sound judgment, both at Williamsport and Mine Run. In every 
instance that we have attacked the enemy in an entrenched position 
we have failed, except in the case of Hancock's attack at Spottsyl- 
vania, which was a surprise discreditable to the enemy. So, like- 
wise, whenever the enemy has attacked us in position, he has been 
repulsed. I think Grant has had his eyes opened, and is willing to 
admit now that Virginia and Lee's army is not Tennessee and Bragg's 
army. Whether the people will ever realize this fact remains to be 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, June 6, 1864. 

Do not be deceived about the situation of affairs by the foolish 
despatches in the papers. Be not over-elated by reported successes, 
nor over-depressed by exaggerated rumors of failures. Up to this 
time our success has consisted only in compelling the enemy to draw 
in towards Richmond; our failure has been that we have not been 
able to overcome, destroy or bag his army. 

His success has been in preventing us from doing the above, and 


in heading us off every time we have tried to get around him. In the 
meantime, both sides have suffered great losses, probably propor- 
tionate to our original relative strength, and it is highly probable 
that both sides have repaired their losses by reinforcements, so that 
we stand now in the same relative proportion, three to two, with 
original numbers. The great struggle has yet to come off in the 
vicinity of Richmond. The enemy have the advantages of position, 
fortifications, and being concentrated at their centre. We shall have 
to move slowly and cautiously, but I am in hopes, with reasonable 
luck, we will be able to succeed. 

I am sorry, very sorry, to hear what you write of Sergeant, 1 but 
God's will must be done, and we must be resigned. 

I am trying to collect some trophies from our recent battle-fields 
to send you for your fair. 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, 9 p. m., June 9, 1864. 

I fully enter into all your feelings of annoyance at the manner in 
which I have been treated, but I do not see that I can do anything 
but bear patiently till it pleases God to let the truth be known and 
matters set right. I have noticed what you say about the Inquirer, 
but, as you observe, it is no worse than the other papers. Even 
Coppee, in the June number of his magazine, shows he, too, is de- 
moralized, he having a flaming editorial notice of the wonderful genius 
of Grant. Now, to tell the truth, the latter has greatly disappointed 
me, and since this campaign I really begin to think I am something 
of a general. 

I don't know whether you saw an article in the Inquirer of the 
2d inst. on me, which the writer intended to be very complimentary. 2 
At the close of it he refers to an eventful occasion when Grant saved 
the life of the nation, when I desired to destroy it. I could not make 
out what in the world this meant; but fortunately I found the au- 
thor, one Edward Cropsey, and having sent for him, he explained 
that he had heard that on the night of the second day's battle of the 
Wilderness I had urged on General Grant the withdrawal of the army 
across the Rapidan, but Grant had firmly resisted all my interces- 
sions, and thus the country was saved the disgrace of a retreat. I 
asked his authority; he said it was the talk of the camp. I told 
him it was a base and wicked lie, and that I would make an example 

1 111 health of son of General Meade. 

2 For article mentioned, see Appendix P. 


of him, which should not only serve to deter others from committing 
like offenses, but would give publicity to his lie and the truth. I 
accordingly issued an order denouncing the falsehood, and ordering 
the offender to be paraded through the lines of the army with a pla- 
card bearing the inscription, "Libeler of the Press/' and then that 
he should be put beyond the lines and not allowed to return. This 
sentence was duly executed, much to the delight of the whole army, 
for the race of newspaper correspondents is universally despised by 
the soldiers. 

General Grant happened to be present when I was making out 
the order, and fully approved of it, although he said he knew the 
offender, and that his family was a respectable one in Illinois. After 
the man had been turned out and the affair had become public, then 
I learned to my surprise that this malicious falsehood had been cir- 
culated all over the country. 

We find Lee's position again too strong for us, and will have to 
make another movement, the particulars of which I cannot disclose. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, June 12, 1864. 
In my last letter I gave you an account of a wicked and malicious 
falsehood which I found had been extensively circulated all through 
the North, and the first intimation of which was a reference to it in 
the Inquirer of the 2d inst. Since writing, I have received the en- 
closed message from the Secretary of War, to which I sent the ac- 
companying note. I do not remember whether I ever told you that 
we were honored with the presence of Mr. Dana, the Assistant Sec- 
retary of War, who accompanies this army, as a kind of staff officer 
of the Secretary, and who keeps the Secretary advised by daily tele- 
grams of the progress and condition of affairs. It is from Mr. Dana's 
telegrams that Mr. Stanton's despatches to General Dix are made 
up. This I learned accidentally, yesterday, in a conversation with 
Grant, in which I commented on some of Mr. Stanton's despatches. 
Grant agreed fully with me in my views, and then told me he had 
never sent a despatch to Mr. Stanton since crossing the Rapidan, 
the few despatches he had sent being directed to General Halleck. 
I was glad to hear this, because it removed from my mind a preju- 
dice I had imbibed, on the supposition that Mr. Stanton was quoting 
Grant, and arising from the fact I have mentioned, that in all Mr. 
Stanton's despatches from Grant's headquarters my name was never 
alluded to; for which I had held Grant responsible, without cause. 


I believe I have saved you some annoyance by informing an officer, 
who applied to me in the name of Mrs. Judge Daly, of New York, to 
know if you would not unite in the great woman's movement about 
dress, that, practically, you had been engaged in that movement 
ever since your marriage, and that at present your domestic duties 
were, from your large family, so absorbing, you really had no time 
to devote to public matters, even as important as the great woman's 

To-day we commence a flank march, to unite with Butler 1 on the 
James. If it is successful, as I think it will be, it will bring us to 
the last act of the Richmond drama, which I trust will have but few 
scenes in it, and will end fortunately and victoriously for us. 

Both George 2 and myself are quite well, though the heat, hard 
service, bad water, and swampy regions are beginning to tell on the 
health of the army. 

I send you an excellent picture of Sedgwick. 

Field of Battle near Petersburg, 
Headquarters Second Army Corps, 12 m., June 17, 1864. 

I have not written you for several days, as we have been moving, 
our mail facilities for the time being interrupted. Our march from 
Cold Harbor to this place has been most successful, including, as it 
has done, the crossing of two streams, the Chickahominy and the 
James, over the former of which a bridge of one thousand seven 
hundred feet had to be thrown, and over the James one of two thou- 
sand feet, in eighty-five feet of water — an exploit in military bridge 
building that has never been equaled. I reached this field yesterday, 
having been placed by General Grant in command of all the troops 
in front of Petersburg, consisting of the Army of the Potomac, and 
two portions of Butler's army, Grant being back at City Point. 
After arriving on the ground, although our men had been marching 
all the night before and during the day, I at once ordered an attack, 
which commenced at 6 P. M. and lasted pretty much continuously till 
4 a. m. to-day — that is, ten hours — eight of which was by moonlight, 
another unparalleled feat in the annals of war. 

Our attack was quite successful, as we captured several of their 
works, four guns and five hundred prisoners. The first prisoners 
brought in replied, on being asked to what command they belonged, 

1 General Benjamin F. Butler, commanding the Army of the James. 

2 Son of General Meade. 


Wise's 1 Legion. I asked where the general was; they said right in 
my front. I asked how he was, and they replied, the old man seemed 
quite well. I inquired what members of his family were with him, 
and they replied, he had two aides, named Wise, one of whom was 
his son and the other a nephew. This is the latest intelligence I can 
send you from your Virginia connections. 

We find the enemy, as usual, in a very strong position, defended 
by earthworks, and it looks very much as if we will have to go through 
a siege of Petersburg before entering on the siege of Richmond, and 
that Grant's words of keeping at it all summer will prove to be quite 
prophetic. Well, it is all in the cruise, as the sailors say. 

I have to-day received your letters of the 10th and 12th. Han- 
cock was with me when I read them. Hancock and I have great 
fun over the sword contest at the fair, I telling him that he made use 
of his time last winter to make friends with the "Shoddy," and of 
course, as they have the money, I can't expect to compete with him. 
We laugh and joke a good deal about it, and whenever a paper comes 
in we look for the state of the vote. The last date we have is the 
14th, and that shows me about one hundred and fifty ahead, which, 
as I have been behind him all the time, is the source of much merri- 

Your account of the fair is very interesting. I should think, from 
the newspapers, you would be likely to beat the New York fair in 
receipts, and that your expenses would be much less. 

I wish Sargie 2 would get well enough to travel; he might pay 
me a visit, now the weather is warm. I don't suppose Sargie cares 
much about seeing war, but I and George 2 would like hugely to see 
him. The weather is getting quite warm. I continue in excellent 
health and spirits. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, June 21, 1864. 
My last letter was written on the 17th, during the battle of Peters- 
burg, which lasted off and on from 4 o'clock on the afternoon of the 
16th to dark of the 18th, day and night, during which time we drove 
the enemy more than a mile and a half, taking from them two strong 
lines of works, capturing over twenty guns, four colors and nearly 
seven hundred prisoners. In all this fighting and these operations I 
had exclusive command, Grant being all the time at City Point, and 

1 General Henry A. Wise, brother-in-law of Mrs. Meade. 
* Son of General Meade. 


coming on the field for only half an hour on the 17th, and yet in Mr. 
Stanton's official despatch he quotes General Grant's account, and 
my name is not even mentioned. I cannot imagine why I am thus 
ignored. 1 

I think I wrote you on the 17th that I was fighting Mr. Wise. 
Since then I have seen a Petersburg paper, announcing the wounding 
severely of George D. Wise, his nephew and aide, also of Peyton 
Wise, another nephew and aide-de-camp. 

On the 18th we found the enemy had retired to an inner line, 
which I had reason to believe was not strongly fortified. I followed 
them and immediately attacked them with my whole force, but 
could not break through their lines. Our losses in the three-days' 
fight under my command amount to nine thousand five hundred, 
killed, wounded and missing. As I did not have over sixty thousand 
men, this loss is severe, and shows how hard the fighting was. 

Your accounts of the fair are quite amusing. Hancock and my- 
self have much fun over the sword contest, and are both quite sorry 
to see we stand no chance for the five thousand dollar vase. 

Mr. Lincoln honored the army with his presence this afternoon, 
and was so gracious as to say he had seen you in Philadelphia, etc., 

We have been very quiet for two days, having given up the idea 
of taking Petersburg by assault. Indeed, the army is exhausted with 
forty-nine days of continued marching and fighting, and absolutely 
requires rest to prevent its morale being impaired. 

Headquahters Army op the Potomac, June 24, 1864. 

Our operations here for the last few days, though not so heavy as 
prior to the 18th, have still been very active. We have been extend- 
ing our lines around Petersburg, and have encountered considerable 
opposition from the enemy, which has somewhat checked the rapidity 
of our progress. 

I am sorry to see the feeling you report as existing with certain 
persons. Despondency is never going to get us through this war, 
and although this army has not accomplished all that ignorant people 
anticipated, it has really done more than could reasonably have been 
counted on. Our losses, it is true, have been large, but not larger 
than is incidental to operations of the character of ours, being offen- 

1 Cold Harbor to Petersburg, June 11-20, 1864. Federal loss — killed, wounded, 
and missing — 9,665 (O. R.). 


sive, and conducted on so grand a scale, with such numbers. Fifty 
days' constant marching and fighting has undoubtedly had its influ- 
ence on the army, and its condition is not what it was when we first 
crossed the Rapidan. 

On the 18th I assaulted several times the enemy's positions, de- 
liberately, and with the expectation of carrying them, because I had 
positive information the enemy had not occupied them more than 
twelve hours, and that no digging had been done on the lines prior 
to their occupation. Nevertheless, I failed, and met with serious 
loss, principally owing to the moral condition of the army; for I am 
satisfied, had these assaults been made on the 5th and 6th of May, 
we should have succeeded with half the loss we met. 

Another inconvenience we suffer from is in the loss of superior 
and other officers. Hancock's Corps has lost twenty brigade com- 
manders, and the rest of the army is similarly situated. We cannot 
replace the officers lost with experienced men, and there is no time 
for reorganization or careful selection. At the same time you must 
remember the enemy labors under like disadvantages. I conversed 
with some prisoners yesterday, who said they were completely ex- 
hausted, having had no rest or sleep for days, and being compelled 
to be all the time marching. I said to one of them, "Well, we will 
treat you well," and he replied, " Oh, sir, you cannot treat us worse 
than we are treated on the other side." In flags of truce, and on all 
occasions that we meet the rebel officers, they always begin conversa- 
tion by asking when the war is going to be over, and expressing them- 
selves as most heartily tired and anxious for peace. I believe these 
two armies would fraternize and make peace in an hour, if the matter 
rested with them; not on terms to suit politicians on either side, but 
such as the world at large would acknowledge as honorable, and which 
would be satisfactory to the mass of people on both sides. But while 
I ardently desire peace, and think a settlement not impracticable, I 
am opposed to any cessation of our efforts so long as the war has to 
be continued, and I regret to see symptoms of a discontent which, 
if persisted in, must paralyze our cause. Again, it is impossible for 
me personally to avoid my share of the odium, if any is to be cast 
on this army. I complain, and I think justly, that the press and 
the Government despatches fail to acknowledge my services, but I 
cannot reasonably do this, and expect to be shielded from complaints, 
if any are made of the operations. 

You know I have never shut my eyes to the obstacles we have 


to encounter, and have always appreciated the difficulties to be over- 
come. The campaign, thus far, has been pretty much what I ex- 
pected; if anything, rather greater obstacles than I anticipated. I 
still believe, with the liberal supply of men and means which our 
superior resources ought to furnish, we will win in the long run; but 
it is a question of tenacity and nerve, and it won't do to look behind, 
or to calculate the cost in blood and treasure; if we do we are lost 
and our enemies succeed. You may remember I told the good people 
of Philadelphia, that what we wanted was men, fighting men; that 
the war could only be closed by desperate and bloody fighting; and 
the sooner the people realize this, and give evidence of their appre- 
ciation by coming forward to fight, the better. 

I am well and seem to improve on hard work. I have had only 
three hours' sleep for several nights past. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, June 25, 1864. 

We have had for ten days past most intensely hot weather, and in 
consequence have desisted from carrying on any more active opera- 
tions than were absolutely necessary. Grant being at City Point, 
some eight miles distant, I see but little of him. He paid me a visit 
of an hour or two day before yesterday. 

I received a few days ago a very kind letter from Cortlandt Parker, 
expressing much consideration for me in my present position, and 
saying it was well known how much of the work I was doing, and 
how little of the credit I was getting. Among other matters he al- 
luded to the Cropsey affair, and said he was at George Harding's 
when his brother came in with the news. Both the Hardings, he 
said, were quite excited, George the less so of the two; and Cort- 
landt thought he convinced him I was right, and advised me to write 
to him to endeavor to smooth it over. This I do not see how I can 
very well do, because I got Markoe Bache to write to him when the 
affair occurred, and to send him Cropsey's confession, which he made, 
hoping by its publication in the Inquirer to get off. I asked Markoe 
to tell Mr. Harding that, as I could not let Cropsey off, he was at 
liberty to do as he pleased about the letter, though in my judgment 
the cause of truth and justice demanded its publication. The letter 
was never published, and the public are to this day ignorant of the 
real character of Cropsey's offense. 

Hancock's wound discharged a big piece of bone the other 
day, and since then he has rapidly improved, and expects in a day 


or two to return to duty. In the meantime Birney has done very 

Gibbon, whom I suppose you know I have finally succeeded in 
getting promoted, has been under the weather, but was about to-day. 

To John Sergeant Meade : l 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, June 27, 1864. 

Should I get the Philadelphia Fair sword, and the one from the 
City Councils, I think I shall be well off for weapons to wield in my 
country's cause. 

Hancock and myself are anxiously awaiting the decision in the 
great sword case, he having hopes some one will come down at the 
last moment in a sealed envelope with a clincher. 

The weather has been so intensely hot, dry and dusty, that both 
sides were compelled to cease for awhile the pleasant task of sending 
people to eternity, which for the last fifty days we have been so suc- 
cessfully pursuing. The rest was much needed by both armies, and 
has been particularly enjoyed by myself. 

I have now as guests two French officers sent by the Emperor, to 
see all they can; one of them, Colonel de Chenal, married a relative 
of the Hopkinsons. They are both intelligent gentlemen, and their 
visit has been very pleasant and agreeable. 

I can hardly tell you what we are going to do next, whether to 
lay siege to Petersburg or something else; a few days I suppose will 

George 2 continues quite well; Jim Biddle, Cadwalader 3 and all the 
rest are in fine health and spirits. 

To Mrs. George G. Meade: 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, June 30, 1864. 
I am sorry to tell you we have had quite a serious disaster. A 
whole division of cavalry, which was sent about a week ago to destroy 
the roads out of Petersburg, after accomplishing their work, were met 
on their return by three divisions of the enemy's cavalry, supported 
by infantry, and after an honorable struggle were overpowered and 
dispersed. A large number have gotten in, but the greater portion 

1 Son of General Meade. 2 Son of General Meade. 

3 Charles E. Cadwalader. 


are as yet missing, and I fear are in the hands of the enemy. I feel 
justified in telling you, though it is in the strictest confidence, that the 
sending this command was against my judgment, as I anticipated 
just this result, and I desired to wait till we could concentrate our 
cavalry before making an attempt to cut the enemy's communica- 
tions, but I was overruled. Now the result is, that our cavalry is 
no longer superior in numbers to the enemy, and, what is worse, has 
lost its prestige. 

These ups and downs in war are to be expected, and perhaps are 
intended to prevent over-exultation and its consequences. 

I cannot imagine where the report originated that this army was 
to be withdrawn, or on what grounds it was predicted. Such an act 
would be suicidal and could only result in the triumph of the enemy. 
No one here has ever dreamed of such a thing, though there may be 
different opinions as to the precise period when Richmond will fall. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, July 3, 1864. 

We are not doing much at present; the great heat and the dust, 
together with the exhausted condition of the men, imposed a quiet 
on us which the enemy does not seem disposed to disturb. 

To-day is the anniversary of the last day's fight at Gettysburg. 
As I reflect on that eventful period, and all that has elapsed since, 
I have reason to be satisfied with my course, and cause to be most 
thankful. The longer this war continues the more will Gettysburg 
and its results be appreciated. Colonel de Chenal, who is still with 
me, says he studied the battle, with maps at Pau, but had no idea 
that on its anniversary he should be the guest of the victorious com- 
mander. He says in Europe it was looked on as a great battle. 

It is said Washington is very unhealthy, and that many of our 
wounded are dying there. It is strange; the health of the army 
never was better — we have no sickness at all. But if we are kept here, 
I presume, as the summer advances, we must expect considerable 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, July 7, 1864. 

I am glad to hear the good news about Baldy, as I am very much 
attached to the old brute. 

Matters seem to be at a standstill for the present, and will con- 
tinue so until the arrival of expected reinforcements. I see a ten- 
dency to despondency in some of the public journals. This arises 


from the folly of expecting one man to perform miracles, and then 
being depressed because unreasonable anticipations are not realized. 
Things have occurred very much as I expected. I had hoped for 
better success at the beginning, but after we failed to defeat Lee at 
the Wilderness, I took it for granted we should have to manoeuvre 
him into the fortifications of Richmond, and then lay siege to that 
place. I knew this, with the men we had, would be a formidable 
undertaking, requiring time and patience, and the final result depend- 
ing very much upon the support we obtained from the Government 
and people in the way of reinforcements. I always knew the 
enemy would fight desperately, and would be skillfully handled. I 
still think, if the men are furnished promptly, that we shall eventu- 
ally succeed in overcoming Lee's army, and when that is done the 
Rebellion is over. 

I presume you will all be excited again in Philadelphia at the 
appearance of the rebel army in Maryland and Pennsylvania. If it 
stirs the people up to turning out and volunteering, I shall thank 
Mr. Ewell very much, even if he does rob and steal some. The apathy 
of our people is our stumbling block. This move of Lee's is an ingen- 
ious effort to get Grant to send troops from here, but I think he will 
be disappointed. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, July 12, 1864. 
I received to-night your letter of the 10th, and am glad to see 
you are not excited about the rebel invasion. This is a bold stroke 
of Lee's to endeavor to procure the withdrawal of this army from its 
menacing attitude, and to prevent the sending of reinforcements to 
Grant. The manoeuvre thus far has been successful, as not only has 
the Sixth Corps been sent away, but the Nineteenth Corps (twenty 
thousand strong), which was to reinforce us, has been diverted to 
Washington. This loss of strength will practically prevent our doing 
anything in the way of offensive movements until the campaign in 
Maryland is settled and the rebels so crippled as to quiet all appre- 
hensions of their return. I understand Ord has been sent to Balti- 
more to command, in place of Wallace, defeated, and that Howe has 
been sent to supersede Sigel. Augur is in Washington, and Hunter 
coming from Cumberland. The danger is that with so many com- 
manders, independent of each other (I ought to have mentioned 
Couch also), and their forces so scattered, that the rebs will have it 
all their own way to commit depredations and collect supplies, and 


when our troops leave the places they are now guarding, and attempt 
the offensive, that before they can concentrate, the rebs will fall 
upon some portion and whip them in detail. I consider the situa- 
tion as critical; not that I believe the enemy can effect anything 
permanent, but I fear they will so embarrass and check our opera- 
tions as to paralyze our efforts and prolong the period when we can 
collect enough troops here to do the work before us. 

Hancock told me to-day he had been confidentially informed it 
was intended to remove me from command, and that he was to be 
my successor. He would not give me his authority, but said it was 
reliable. He did not know the grounds on which this action was to 
be based. This seemed to me so preposterous that I could not help 
laughing, but Hancock assured me it was undoubtedly in agitation, 
and thought I ought to be warned. He said, from what he could 
gather, he thought that Grant opposed it, but that he would be over- 
ruled. Hancock thought I would not be relieved entirely, but would 
be ordered somewhere, perhaps to Pennsylvania. Now, as my con- 
science is clear that I have done my duty to the best of my ability 
since this campaign commenced, and as I feel I have been unjustly 
treated, and have not had the credit I was and am entitled to, I 
shall not worry myself about any such outrage as being relieved with- 
out cause. I mention all this confidentially to you, simply as a prep- 
aration for the coming event, should it take place. 

There have been recently with the army several Senators and 
Representatives; among others, Chandler and Wilkinson of Minne- 
sota. The latter individual was at General Crawford's. He was 
very severe on me, showing he still retained the animus that dictated 
his attack on me in the Senate last winter. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, July 15, 1864. 
I suppose you are in a great state of excitement on account of 
the rebel invasion. I wrote you in my last that I thought it was a 
serious affair, and subsequent developments prove it to be so. Day 
before yesterday I went down to City Point to see General Grant, 
having heard a rumor that I was to be sent to Washington. I found 
Grant quite serious, but calm. He seemed to think that with the 
Sixth Corps from this army, and the Nineteenth from Louisiana, 
there would be troops enough, with Hunter's, Couch's and Augur's 
commands, not only to defeat the rebels, but to bag them. He said 
he had not contemplated sending me to Washington, but if another 


corps had to go, he would send me with it. I do not think the posi- 
tion a desirable one, as the difficulty will be to get the various com- 
mands together and harmonize such conflicting elements. If, how- 
ever, I am ordered, I will do the best I can. I think Grant should 
either have gone himself or sent me earlier. He has given the su- 
preme command to Wright, who is an excellent officer. I expect 
that after the rebels find Washington too strong for them, and they 
have done all the plundering they can, they will quietly slip across 
the Potomac and rush down here to reinforce Lee, who will then try 
to throw himself on us before our troops can get back. 

I spoke to Grant about the report that I was to be relieved, and 
he said he had never heard a word of it, and did not believe there 
was any foundation for it, as he would most certainly have been con- 
sulted. I have therefore dismissed the matter as some idle talk from 
some person with whom the wish was father to the thought. 

Lee has not sent away any of his army, and is doubtless disap- 
pointed that his diversion has not produced a greater weakening of 
Grant's army. He confidently expected to transfer the seat of war 
to Maryland, and thought his menace of Washington would induce 
the Government to order Grant back there with his army. 

I was very sorry to hear of Franklin's capture, for his health is 
not good, owing to a wound he received in Louisiana, and I fear, if 
they send him to Charleston, his health may give way under the 
confinement in that climate, or be permanently injured. 

Whilst I was writing we have a telegram reporting the withdrawal 
of the enemy across the Potomac, Wright in pursuit. Just as I ex- 
pected. It also states there is a rumor that Franklin has made his 
escape, which I earnestly hope may prove true. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, July 17, 1864. 

I had a visit to-day from General Grant, who was the first to tell 
me of the attack in the Times, based on my order expelling two corre- 
spondents. Grant expressed himself very much annoyed at the in- 
justice done me, which he said was glaring, because my order dis- 
tinctly states that it was by his direction these men were prohibited 
remaining with the army. He acknowledged there was an evident 
intention to hold me accountable for all that was condemned, and to 
praise him for all that was considered commendable. 

As to these two correspondents, the facts are, that Grant sent me 
an order to send Swinton, of the Times, out of the lines of my army. 


Swinton was in Washington, and he was accordingly notified not to 
return. In regard to the other, Kent, of the Tribune, Hancock wrote 
me an official letter, enclosing the Tribune, and complaining of the 
misstatements of Kent. As Kent was a correspondent with General 
Butler's command, and not under my jurisdiction, I simply for- 
warded Hancock's letter to General Grant, asking that proper action 
should be taken in the case. He replied that, on reference to General 
Butler, it was found Kent had gone off, but that he, Grant, had pro- 
hibited his return. I therefore issued my order, stating these men 
were by General Grant's directions excluded from the army, and di- 
recting, if they returned, they should be arrested and turned over to 
the Provost Marshal General. They might just as well attack Gen- 
eral Patrick, the Provost Marshal, because he is ordered to execute 
the order, as to attack me, who merely gave publicity to General 
Grant's order. 

We are quite on the qui-vive to-night, from the reports of deserters, 
who say we are to be attacked to-morrow. Their story is that John- 
ston is so pressed by Sherman, 1 that if he is not reinforced, he will 
have to succumb, and that he cannot be reinforced until we are driven 
back. We consider this great news, and are most anxiously and im- 
patiently awaiting the attack, feeling confident we can whip twice 
our numbers if they have the hardihood to attack us. 

Franklin's escape has delighted every one, and we all hope his 
luck has now turned. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, 10 p. m., July 20, 1864. 

I am a good deal amused at your fear that I will become entan- 
gled with politicians. You may make your mind easy on that point, 
as, with the exception of what you write, I have never heard a word 
breathed on the subject. I rather fancy I should be considered too 
independent and too intractable for the purposes of any of these 

Much excitement was created to-day by the announcement that 
General W. F. Smith, who returned last evening from his sick leave, 
was this morning relieved from his command of the Eighteenth Corps 
and ordered to New York. It was only the other day he was assigned 
by the President to this command, and Butler sent to Fortress Mon- 
roe. It appears now the tables are turned — Butler remains and Smith 

1 Major-General W. T. Sherman advancing on Atlanta, Ga. 


We have had a little rain, which has added greatly to our com- 
fort and allayed somewhat the dust which has been such an annoy- 
ance. We are waiting the return of the Sixth Corps, sent to relieve 
Washington, after which I suppose we shall begin anew. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, July 23, 1864. 

The stories you hear about me, some of which have reached camp, 
are mere canards. I have never had any quarrel with either General 
Hancock or Smith. Hancock is an honest man, and as he always 
professes the warmest friendship for me, I never doubt his statements; 
and I am sure I have for him the most friendly feeling and the high- 
est appreciation of his talents. I am perfectly willing at any time 
to turn over to him the Army of the Potomac, and wish him joy of 
his promotion. 

We have been very quiet since I last wrote; there are signs of 
approaching activity. The army is getting to be quite satisfied with 
its rest, and ready to try it again. 

It would appear from the news from Niagara Falls that the ques- 
tion of peace has been in a measure mooted. The army would hail 
an honorable peace with delight, and I do believe, if the question 
was left to those who do the fighting, an honorable peace would be 
made in a few hours. 

Ord has been placed in Smith's place in command of the Eigh- 
teenth Corps, and General Birney has been assigned to the Tenth 
Corps, largely composed of colored troops. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, July 26, 1864. 

I consider the peace movement in Canada, and the share Horace 
Greeley had in it, as most significant. The New York Times of the 
23d has a most important article on the President's "To whom it 
may concern" proclamation, in which it is argued that Mr. Lincoln 
was right to make the integrity of the Union a sine qua non, but not 
to make the abandonment of slavery; that this last is a question for 
discussion and mutual arrangement, and should not be interposed as 
a bar to peace negotiations. 

It is a pity Mr. Lincoln employed the term "abandonment of 
slavery," as it implies its immediate abolition or extinction, to which 
the South will never agree; at least, not until our military successes 
have been greater than they have hitherto been, or than they now 
seem likely to be. Whereas had he said the final adjustment of the 


slavery question, leaving the door open to gradual emancipation, I 
really believe the South would listen and agree to terms. But when 
a man like Horace Greeley declares a peace is not so distant or im- 
probable as he had thought, and when a Republican paper, like the 
Times, asserts the people are yearning for peace, and will not permit 
the slavery question to interpose towards its negotiations, I think 
we may conclude we see the beginning of the end. God grant it may 
be so, and that it will not be long before this terrible war is brought 
to a close. 

The camp is full of rumors of intrigues and reports of all kinds, 
but I keep myself free from them all, ask no questions, mind my own 
business, and stand prepared to obey orders and do my duty. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, July 29, 1864. 

Your letters of the 24th and 27th arrived this evening. They are 
written in very bad spirits, and I am tempted to scold you for in- 
dulging in such. I want you to recover your original elasticity of 
spirits which characterized you in the early days of our married life, 
when you were always sure something was going to turn up. You 
must now try to look on the bright side and hope for the best. I 
think we have a great deal to be thankful for, and things might be 
much worse. 

I had a visit yesterday from our old friend the Rev. Mr. Neill. 
He was very complimentary to me, and promised to call and see you 
on his return to Philadelphia. He was here as agent of the Chris- 
tian Commission. 

Yesterday I went to see General Grant at City Point. He said 
he wanted an officer to go to Washington to take command of the 
Department of West Virginia, Susquehanna, Baltimore and Wash- 
ington. That not wishing to take any one from the field, he had 
suggested Franklin, but they had declined to have Franklin. He 
then suggested my name, to which he had received no reply, but a 
message from the President asking him to meet him at Fortress 
Monroe. I made no reply to Grant, except to say I was ready to 
obey any order that might be given me. So far as having an inde- 
pendent command, which the Army of the Potomac is not, I would 
like this change very well; but in other respects, to have to manage 
Couch, Hunter, Wallace and Augur, and to be managed by the 
President, Secretary and Halleck, will be a pretty trying position 
that no man in his senses could desire. I am quite indifferent how 


it turns out. I think the President will urge the appointment of 
Halleck; but Grant will not agree to this if he can help it. 

Grant told me Sherman has assigned Howard to McPherson's 
command. 1 This had disgusted Joe Hooker, who had asked to be 
and had been relieved. To-morrow we make an attack on Peters- 
burg. I am not sanguine of success, but hope for the best. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, July 31, 1864. 

Our attack yesterday, although made under the most advanta- 
geous circumstances, was a failure. By a movement to the north 
bank of the James, Lee was completely deceived, and thinking it 
was a movement of the whole army against Richmond, he rushed 
over there with the greater portion of his army, leaving his works 
in our front held by only three out of the eight divisions of his army. 
When this was ascertained, it was determined to spring a mine which 
had been dug under one of the enemy's batteries on their line, assault 
the breach, and push the whole army through to the Appomattox 
River. The mine had been dug by a Pennsylvania regiment of coal 
miners in Burnside's Corps, and to this officer was entrusted the 
assault. At 5 a. m. yesterday the mine was most successfully ex- 
ploded, throwing into the air, and subsequently burying, four guns 
and a South Carolina regiment. Our column immediately took pos- 
session of the crater and the adjacent part of the enemy's first line; 
but instead of immediately pushing on and crowning the hill in front, 
which was the key to the whole of the enemy's position, our men 
crouched in the crater and could not be got forward. Burnside and 
myself had a dispute, he not being willing to admit his men would 
not advance; at the same time it was evident to all no progress was 
being made. In this manner, after a delay of five hours, finding it 
impossible to get an advance, the thing was given up and Burnside 
ordered to withdraw. In the meantime the enemy, seeing we did 
not come forward, rallied, and massing on the point held by our 
troops, drove them back, with confusion and the loss of a number 
of prisoners. 2 

The affair was very badly managed by Burnside, and has pro- 
duced a great deal of irritation and bad feeling, and I have applied 

1 Army of the Cumberland. 

2 Siege and assaults of Petersburg, June 21- July 29, 1864. Federal loss — 
killed, wounded, and missing — 5,316 (O. R.). Battle of July 30, 1864 (explosion 
of mine). Federal loss — killed, wounded, and missing — 4,008 (O. R.). 


to have him relieved. In one of my despatches I asked if the diffi- 
culty was the refusal of his officers and men to obey his orders to 
advance, and I said I wanted to know the truth, and to have an 
immediate answer. This he chose to construe into an imputation 
on his veracity, and replied that the charge on my part was un- 
officer-like and ungentlemanly. Of course this has brought matters 
to a focus, and either he or I has got to go. It was a real misfortune, 
because we can hardly expect again to have such a good chance, and 
a failure at this time is most unfortunate. Grant was on the field 
with me all the time, and assented to all I did. I am afraid our 
failure will have a most unfavorable influence on the public mind, 
prone as it is to despondency. I was not much in favor of the plan, 
but it being determined on, I wanted to try everything for success. 

Grant went last night to see the President. What the result will 
be I cannot tell; but what with the re-advance of the enemy into 
Pennsylvania, and the failure to accomplish anything here, matters 
are becoming complicated. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, August 3, 1864. 

I am in the midst of my row with Burnside. Our recent miser- 
able failure will require an investigation, and authority has been 
asked of the President to appoint a court of inquiry. In the mean- 
time I have preferred charges against Burnside, and asked he be 
relieved from duty with this army. 

Yesterday, on General Grant's return from Old Point, General 
Sheridan was ordered to Washington, to command that portion of 
the Army of the Potomac now detached for the defense of Maryland 
and the Capital. I at once went to Grant and told him, as he had 
thought proper to communicate to me that he had nominated me 
for a command in Washington, I demanded to know the reason I 
had not been accepted. He said the President expressed every will- 
ingness to have me, but not knowing my wishes on the subject, he 
feared my removal from the command of the Army of the Potomac 
might be misunderstood by the public and be construed into a dis- 
approbation of my course, but if I desired the transfer, he would be 
very glad to have it made. General Grant said it was then con- 
cluded I should be sent, if any more troops should be detached; in 
the meantime, Sheridan was sent to command Wright's Corps and 
the division of cavalry already sent. I am a little doubtful about 
this matter. I believe Grant is honest and would not deceive me, 


but I think there is something more than is acknowledged. How- 
ever, as I am indifferent about the position, I am content, so long 
as finding any fault with me is disclaimed. Hancock, whose name 
was also mentioned, is quite put out, and thinks some political chi- 
canery at the bottom of it, and that they are afraid in Washington 
to give us a chance to do anything that others cannot swallow up. 
I, however, am more charitable; at any rate, I intend to look on 
the affair in the most favorable light, particularly as I have got my 
hands full with the Burnside imbroglio, and must remain here to 
see to it. 

August 6, 1864. 

Grant has not yet returned from Washington; no telegrams have 
been received from him since he left, so I presume the project of send- 
ing me to take command has fallen through. I feel quite easy and 
indifferent to what course they may think proper to take. My con- 
science is clear. I have done my duty to the best of my ability, and 
shall continue to do so, regardless of newspaper abuse, and without 
any effort at reply thereto. 

A court of inquiry, at my request, has been appointed, with Han- 
cock as President. The whole affair of the 30th will be ventilated. 

I had to-day a visit from Mr. Sam. Wilkeson, one of the editors 
of the Tribune, and one of my most bitter villifiers last spring. This 
individual called to make the amende honorable — to say he had been 
deceived, and to express the most friendly feelings for me. As I had 
never seen him before, but once on the field of Gettysburg, and had 
never exchanged a word with him, or given him any cause of offense, 
I received his apologies as if nothing had ever taken place, and he 
left me quite pleased. 

I hope the dear children will enjoy themselves at Cape May. I 
should be so happy if I could only be there with you, to indulge in 
those splendid sea baths and take our old walks on the beach. Well, 
let us keep up our spirits, have brave hearts, trust in God's mercy 
and goodness, and believe that so long as we try to do our duty all 
will be well in time. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, August 8, 1864. 
Grant has not yet returned from Washington. It is reported he 
has gone to Harper's Ferry to see for himself how matters stand. 
This, and his not telegraphing for me, I think settle the question 
about my being transferred. 


August 9, 1864. 

I am delighted to see your letter is written in such good spirits, 
and am truly rejoiced to hear I have so many and such warm friends. 
The attempt to implicate me in the recent fiasco was truly ridicu- 
lous; still, the public must in time be influenced by these repeated 
and constant attacks, however untrue and unjustifiable they may be. 
Have you ever thought that since the first week after Gettysburg, 
now more than a year, I have never been alluded to in public jour- 
nals except to abuse and villify me? And why this is I have never 
been able to imagine. 

I had a letter to-night from Cortlandt Parker, who has recently 
seen George Harding. He says Harding told him he had recently 
seen Stanton, who is an enthusiastic admirer of Grant, and that 
Stanton observed that Grant had a most exalted opinion of me, and 
told him, Stanton, that when he first came East he thought Sherman 
was the first soldier in the country, but now he believed I was his 
equal, if not superior. I send you this for what it is worth. I cer- 
tainly think Grant has a queer way of showing his appreciation. 
Grant has not until recently seen Stanton, since we crossed the Rapi- 
dan, so could not have told him this; but Dana may have conveyed 
this information. 

There was an awful explosion to-day at City Point of a powder 
and ammunition vessel. It is said sixty were killed and one hundred 
and fifty wounded. 

I have been engaged for two days giving my testimony before 
the court of inquiry that is investigating the Petersburg disaster. 
It will take them a long time to get through, and I fancy active 
operations will interrupt their proceedings till such time that the wit- 
nesses will be scattered. Grant has not yet acted on my applica- 
tion to have Burnside relieved. The weather continues awfully hot, 
but the army is in good health. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, p. m., August 10, 1864. 
The Washington papers of yesterday announce Sheridan being 
temporarily assigned to the military division which Grant told me 
was intended for me. Grant has been back two days, and has not 
vouchsafed one word in explanation, and I have avoided going to 
see him, from a sense of self-respect, and from the fear I should not 
be able to restrain the indignation I hold to be natural at the duplic- 
ity some one has practiced. In my last conversation with General 


Grant he distinctly told me that if a military division was organized 
I should have the command, and that it was designed to give Sheri- 
dan only the command of that part of the Army of the Potomac 
temporarily detached. This order is not consistent with that state- 

To-day I got through with my evidence before the court of in- 
quiry. Burnside, in his cross-examination, through a lawyer, under- 
took to impeach my testimony, though he disclaimed any such 
intention; but I gave him as good as he sent. I hear he was about 
apologizing to me for his disrespectful despatch, and was then going 
to resign; but on returning from Grant's headquarters, where he 
expressed this intention, he found my charges and letter, saying I 
had applied to have him relieved. I feel sorry for Burnside, because 
I really believe the man half the time don't know what he is about, 
and is hardly responsible for his acts. 

Headquaeters Army of the Potomac, August 13, 1864. 
Grant was here yesterday to transact some business. I imme- 
diately asked him, how, after his promise to me, that if a military 
division was organized, I should be assigned to the command, he has 
placed my junior, Sheridan, there. He said Sheridan had not been 
assigned to the division, that no one was yet assigned to it, and that 
Sheridan had only been put in command of the troops in the field 
belonging to the different departments. I referred him to the order 
constituting the division, and assigning Sheridan temporarily to the 
command, and observed that temporarily I supposed meant as long 
as there was anything to do, or any object in holding the position. 
I further remarked that I regretted it had not been deemed a simple 
matter of justice to me to place me in this independent command. 
To which he made no remark. I really am not able to ascertain 
what are his real views. Sometimes I take the dark side, and think 
they are intentionally adverse to me, and at others I try to make 
myself believe that such is not his purpose. In confirmation of the 
last theory, I am of the opinion that he does not look and has not 
looked upon the movement in Maryland and the Valley in the im- 
portant light it deserves, and that he considers it merely a raid which 
a display of force on our part will soon dissipate, when Sheridan and 
the troops will soon return here. But in this he is greatly mistaken. 
Already we have positive news that Lee has sent large reinforcements 
into the Valley, and there is no doubt it is his purpose to transfer 
the principal scene of operations there, if it can be accomplished. 


To-morrow we are going to make a move to test his strength here, 
and endeavor to make him recall his troops. Should this fail, we 
will be obliged to go up there and leave Richmond. 

The weather continues intensely hot. 

The court of inquiry was going on, but this move will stop it, 
and I fear it will never come to an end. I have given my testimony, 
which I will send you to preserve as my record in the case. I have 
insisted on Burnside's being relieved. Grant has let him go on a 
leave, but he will never return whilst I am here. 

Headquartehs Army of the Potomac, August 16, 1864. 

I am right glad the dear children are enjoying themselves. I 
wish I could be with you and them; but this is out of the question, 
and there is no use thinking about it. I have made up my mind to 
stick it out here, regardless of every consideration, except that of 
doing my duty at all hazards. They shall not say that any per- 
sonal considerations caused me to turn my back upon the enemy. 

Hancock has been fighting for two days across the James, and 
though he has met with success, yet he has not been able to break 
through the enemy's lines, he finding them everywhere in strong force. 
His demonstration, however, has undoubtedly prevented the send- 
ing of reinforcements to Early, as we had reason to believe they de- 
signed doing. Hancock, with his usual luck, has captured some guns 
and colors. 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, August 18, 1864. 
Hancock's movement across the James has resulted in bringing 
on an action with a part of Lee's army, which at first was in our 
favor, but from their reinforcing him I judge Hancock has come to 
a stand still, and will not probably be able to effect more. Warren 
has gone to-day on a similar mission on our left, to see if he can find 
a weak spot in the enemy's line. His guns are now plainly heard. 
These movements are made by Grant, with a view to keep the enemy 
on the alert, prevent his detaching any troops to Early, and, if pos- 
sible, compel his bringing back some of the troops in the Valley, 
and thus give Sheridan more chance. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, August 22, 1864. 
I have received your letters of the 18th and 19th insts. I have 
known of Sergeant's 1 condition for some time, because, when I found 

1 Son of General Meade. 


he was so sick, I wrote to Dr. Hewson, who at once replied to me. 
Everything has been done for Sergeant that could be done. He has 
had the best medical advice, and the most careful nursing. This 
should be continued, and the result left to that Power who governs 
and rules all things, and to whose decree we must submit with resig- 

I have been very much occupied for several days past in the 
operations of my command on the Weldon Railroad, particularly 
Warren's Corps, who during this time has had three very pretty little 
fights, in all of which we have whipped the enemy, though we have 
suffered a good deal in casualties. 1 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, August 24, 1864. 
I see you have heard of the promotion of Sherman, Hancock and 
Sheridan, and noted the absence of my name. I cannot tell you 
how I felt when I first heard this, but I determined to keep quiet 
till I could obtain some explanation from General Grant. To-day 
was the first time I have seen him since I learned the intelligence. 
On my asking him the reason of my name being omitted when those 
recommended at the same time had been appointed, he answered it 
was his act; that he had asked for the immediate appointment of the 
others, but had not asked for mine; and the reason he had not asked 
for mine was, that if Sherman and myself had been appointed on 
the same day, I would rank him, and he wished Sherman to rank 
me. That neither his opinion nor that of the President and Secre- 
tary had changed with regard to me; that it was still a settled thing 
that I was to have the vacancy; and that he proposed to have me 
appointed, when I should be assigned to the command of the Middle 
Division, which he said he would have done before now, but for the 
peculiar position Sheridan was placed in, having to fall back, and if 
superseded now, it would be construed into a disapproval of his course, 
which was not the case. Of course to all this I had nothing to say. 
My object was to ascertain whether any fault was found with me, 
or whether any change of opinion had taken place since the last 
time he had assured me I was to be appointed when the others were. 
As he had disclaimed any such reasons, I did not care to know why 
I had been left out. I never expected, nor did I much care about, 
the appointment except to prove to the ignorant public that they 

1 Attack at the Weldon Railroad, August 19-21, 1864. Federal loss — killed, 
wounded, and missing — 4,543 (O. R.). 


had been imposed upon by a lying press. Nothing more was said 
upon the subject. The whole substance of the explanation was that 
he desired to advance his favorites, Sherman and Sheridan. I was 
left out because it would interfere with Sherman's rank to have me 
in, and Hancock was brought in because he could not appoint Sheri- 
dan before Hancock, not having recommended him when he did Han- 
cock. Of course I could say nothing to this explanation. It would 
not do for me to claim promotion or express dissatisfaction at not 
receiving it. I had the right to ask why, after telling me I had been 
recommended, and would be appointed, I found I was not, but when 
the above explanation was made, however unjust I may have deemed 
such reasoning to be, I could take no notice of it, and could not with 
propriety complain. It is the same old story, an inability to appre- 
ciate the sensitiveness of a man of character and honor. Grant really 
thinks he is one of my best friends, and can't conceive why I should 
complain of a little delay in giving me what he tells me I am cer- 
tainly to have. It is rather hard to have denied me the vindication 
which the Government might give to my course, by conferring a 
promotion that I have the most positive evidence it, the Government, 
has acknowledged I merited and should have. However, I suppose 
this, like all else, must be borne with patience. 

We have had some pretty hard fighting to secure our lodgment 
on the Weldon Railroad. Grant and Warren are the heroes of the 
affair. I must confess I do not envy either of them their laurels, 
although in the Weldon Railroad affair Grant was sixteen miles away, 
and knew nothing but what was reported to him by myself. We 
lost a good many men in killed and wounded, but principally in pris- 
oners. Our army is becoming much weakened by these repeated 
losses, and our only hope is that the enemy suffers proportionately. 
Their papers acknowledge in their last affairs a loss of five general 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, August 26, 1864. 
I have been for several days very much occupied, in the saddle 
all day, superintending the movements culminating in our securing 
a permanent lodgment on the Weldon Road. I think I wrote you 
of Warren's movements and his fights, which, although attended with 
heavy losses in prisoners, yet resulted in our retaining our hold and 
eventually inflicting great damage on the enemy. Soon after Warren 
was in position, Hancock was brought from the north side of the 


James, and placed on the railroad, with two divisions of infantry and 
one of cavalry, and commenced the work of destroying the road. 
He had only destroyed about seven or eight miles, when the enemy, 
yesterday, attacked him with great vehemence and superior numbers. 
Hancock was in a good position, and repulsed all their attacks till 
about dark, when, becoming desperate, they hurled such masses 
against him, they were enabled to carry a small portion of his lines 
and a battery of eight guns. As soon as I found how heavily he 
was attacked, I hurried up reinforcements to him, but the distance 
was so great they did not arrive till after dark. Hancock's object, the 
destruction of the road, being frustrated, he was withdrawn at night. 
This was the only unfortunate part of the affair, for we this morning 
ascertained from some of our men who remained on the field that the 
enemy retired also during the night, leaving their wounded, with their 
dead unburied. It is said to be one of the severest battles of the 
war, and the enemy, being the attacking party, suffered terribly, 
our losses being comparatively light. Still, the loss of guns and our 
withdrawal will tell against us, though I would do the same thing 
to-morrow, and willingly lose guns, to make the enemy lose five killed 
and wounded to our one. Hancock expressed himself as confident 
of maintaining his position, and did not call for reinforcements, which 
I nevertheless sent as soon as I found how heavily he was engaged, 
and he now says he ought to have kept his lines intact, and would 
have done so but for the bad conduct of a part of his command, giv- 
ing away when there was no excuse for it. After withdrawing, the 
enemy retired within his lines at Petersburg, and will, I think, let 
us alone for some time, and will hardly try for some time the plan 
of attacking us. These frequent affairs are gradually thinning both 
armies, and if we can only manage to make the enemy lose more 
than we do, we will win in the long run, but unfortunately, the of- 
fensive being forced on us, causes us to seek battle on the enemy's 
terms, and our losses are accordingly the greatest, except when they 
come out and attack, as recently, when they always get the worst of it. 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, August 28, 1864. 
I received this evening yours of the 26th. In it you acknowledge 
the receipt, per Mr. England, of my testimony before the court of 
inquiry. The sittings of the court have been interrupted by our 
recent movements, but to-morrow they are to be resumed, and I trust 
they will push matters to a close and come to some conclusion before 
they are again interrupted. 


I have written you of the fighting that has been going on for a 
week past. It has been quiet for the last two days. The enemy 
having left us in undisturbed possession of the railroad so long, our 
position is strengthened to such a degree he could not now drive us 
away. This is a great point gained, and we are satisfied with its 
accomplishment, notwithstanding it entailed heavy losses on us, par- 
ticularly in prisoners. Poor young Crossman belonged to the regu- 
lars, and was killed in the first day's fight on the railroad. I under- 
stand he was shot in the head, being unconscious from the moment 
of receiving his wound till he expired, which occurred soon after. I 
believe he had not joined very long, and I was not aware of his being 
here. I sympathize most sincerely with his afflicted parents, but this 
is one of those dispensations that are almost daily taking place here. 

I understand General Grant has been to Fortress Monroe and 
returned to-day with his wife and children. He has one little girl, 
and either two or three boys. He seems very much attached to his 
children, and his wife is said to possess a great deal of good sense, 
and to have exercised a most salutary effect over him. I do not 
know why she has given up St. Louis, her native place, but Grant 
told me the other day he intended to keep his family in Philadelphia 
for the next few years, probably for the education of his children. 

I think we shall be quiet for some time, unless the enemy attacks, 
which I hardly think probable. Butler is away now, but when he 
returns I shall make an effort to get off for a few days, to have a 
peep at you and the children; but don't rely too much on my coming. 1 

War Department, September 8, 1864. 

I have been received with the greatest kindness both by the Presi- 
dent and Mr. Stanton. At my request, Willie's 2 appointment was 
immediately made out and given to him, and Mr. Stanton said I 
might rest assured my major-generalcy would in due time be given me. 

I am very much hurried and leave this afternoon at six. 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, September 10, 1864. 
I reached here about 4 p. m. to-day, very sad and dispirited, as I 
reflect on Sergeant's 3 ill health and your embarrassing position. I 
wrote you a few hurried lines from Washington by Willie Gerhard. 

1 General Meade left camp on September 1, and arrived at his home in Phila- 
delphia on the 3d. He left Philadelphia on September 7, and arrived at Wash- 
ington on the 8th. 

2 Brother of Mrs. Meade. 3 Son of General Meade. 


I spent about half an hour with the President and some four hours 
with the Secretary. Both were very affable, apparently very glad 
to see me, and said many flattering things. The Secretary, particu- 
larly, kept me in his private room, to the exclusion of all other visitors, 
and was very sociable. I think I wrote you that when I told him of 
dear Sargie's ill health, he at once said if I wanted to send him to 
Cuba or New Orleans, he would place at my disposition a Govern- 
ment steamer to take him out there, which I considered very hand- 

We left Washington at 6 p. m. in a special steamer, which, al- 
though quite comfortable, was a very slow one, and we did not reach 
City Point till 12 m. to-day, though the ordinary run would have 
brought us there at 6 p. m. yesterday. I saw Grant for a little while 
before coming here, and he told me he was near telegraphing me to 
come back on Monday, as on that day there were indications the 
enemy was going to attack; but they passed away, and he let me 

I have thought a great deal about you, and the more I think, the 
more I am puzzled. I really do not see anything that can be done 
except your accompanying Sergeant, and I think the best place to 
go is the Island of Madeira. This would not diminish our expenses 
any; still I don't see what other arrangement can be made. If you 
could only hear of some kind friend who was going to Europe, who 
would take care of Sergeant, and thus render your going unnecessary, 
it would be a great relief, as your leaving the younger children is a 
very great disadvantage. Still, we must accommodate ourselves to 
things as they are, and not as we would have them, and yield every- 
thing in the hope that dear Sargie will be benefitted by the change 
of scene and air, and under the blessing of God his health restored. 
I dream about you all the time, and cannot dismiss you from my 
thoughts day or night. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, September 15, 1864. 
General Grant went this morning to Harper's Ferry to visit Sheri- 
dan. There were some indications of a movement on Lee's part yes- 
terday, but nothing occurring this morning, he went off. He is to 
be absent, I believe, some five or six days. What Grant meant by 
the rebels deserting at the rate of a regiment a day, referred, I pre- 
sume, to their desertions in all parts of the field, and to the present 
diminished size of their regiments. This would make a daily deser- 


tion of about three hundred. I have no means of knowing what pro- 
portion of this amount is drawn from the returns of other armies; 
but, in the Army of the Potomac, ten a day would be a liberal esti- 
mate of the deserters who have come into our lines for some time 
past. I think Grant was a little hyperbolical in the expression he 
used. He is of a very sanguine temperament, and sees everything 
favorable in a strong light, and makes light of all obstacles. In 
some respects this is an admirable quality, if it is not carried to ex- 

I don't think that I told you that, day before yesterday, I pre- 
sented to some soldiers of the Fifth Corps medals of honor, conferred 
upon them for good conduct on the field of battle. There was a 
great ceremony on the occasion, and I made a few remarks, which I 
presume will appear in print. The weather, after being cool, has 
again become warm. Sickness is beginning to show itself. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, September 16, 1864. 

Enclosed is a receipt of Adams & Co.'s Express for a small box 
containing the beautiful pistol presented to me by the New York 
Metropolitan Fair, which I send home for safe-keeping. 

Yesterday General Grant took his departure, and to-day my ill 
luck has brought a rebel cavalry raid, in which they dashed into our 
lines and succeeded in driving off about two thousand head of cattle 
that had been, contrary to my judgment, sent down the James River 
for grazing, to a point just inside our cavalry pickets, and where they 
were exposed at any moment to be run off, as they have been by a 
coup-de-main. Grant's absence, and the usual friendly spirit of the 
press, will undoubtedly attribute this loss to my negligence, and I 
really had as much to do with it as you had, except that I had called 
attention to the danger of having the cattle there. The cattle were 
not under my control, or that of my commissary, but under a com- 
missary serving on Grant's staff. 

I have this evening a letter from Mr. Cropsey, asking permission 
to return to the army. I do not altogether like its tone or spirit, but 
shall not take any other notice of it than to send him a pass. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, September 17, 1864. 
I wish you would dismiss all politics from your mind; I think you 
allow yourself to be unnecessarily harassed about such matters. I 
fancy we shall be happy, never mind who is President, if God will 


only spare my life, restore me to you and the children, and graciously 
permit dear Sergeant's health to be re-established. Besides, politics 
are so mixed up that, thinking about them, and trying to unravel 
their mysteries, is enough to set a quiet person crazy. 

I got a nice note last evening, and a box, from Lyman. The box 
had five hundred cigars in it, which he said were a present from his 
patriotic sister, Mrs. Howland Shaw, and his wife, so you see how I 
am honored. By-the-by, talking of presents, I have never suitably 
acknowledged Mr. Tier's handsome present of a box of tea. I wish 
you would tell him it is most excellent, just the kind I like, and that 
all the members of my mess, including the French officers, one of 
whom served in China and is therefore a judge, are equally with 
myself delighted with the flavor and hold him in most honorable and 
grateful remembrance. Poor Colonel de Chanal has received letters 
from the Minister of War, who does not seem to be oversatisfied with 
his reports from the field, and wants more information about our 
arsenals and manufacture of arms and munitions; so the colonel is 
going to leave us, to travel; which I regret very much, as he does, 
for I believe he has become quite attached to our service and the 
officers of my staff. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, September 22, 1864. 

To-day we have Mr. Stanton's despatch announcing Sheridan's 
brilliant victory. I am very glad for the cause and glad for Sheri- 
dan's sake; but I must confess to enough human weakness to regret 
this opportunity of distinction was denied me, who was, I think, from 
previous service and present position, entitled to it. It is all settled, 
however, now, as I see Mr. Stanton announces Sheridan has been 
permanently assigned to the Middle Military Division, and that he 
has been made a brigadier general in the regular army. This last 
piece of disingenuous news will be amusing to those who know he 
was appointed to this place six weeks ago, in advance of his present 
well-merited laurels. My time I suppose has passed, and I must now 
content myself with doing my duty unnoticed. 

George 1 and I both continue very well. I did not intend to alarm 
you about the health of the army. I only meant to say we were 
beginning to experience in a slight degree the effects of a residence in 
this not very healthy location. Still, taking all things into considera- 
tion, the health of the army is wonderful. The enemy predicted we 

1 Son of General Meade. 


would never be able to pass the summer here, and counted largely on 
the fevers of the country driving us away. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, September 23, 1864. 

To-night we have the news of Sheridan's second victory at Fisher's 
Hill, near Strasburg. This is very great news. The destruction and 
dispersion of Early's army is a very great feat, and at once relieves 
Maryland and Pennsylvania of any fears of more invasion this year. 
If now we are only rapidly reinforced, we may be enabled to give 
Lee some hard blows before he can recruit and increase his army. 

I feel quite unhappy about Sergeant 1 having to go away, though 
I have the highest hopes of the good effect of the change of climate. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, September 25, 1864. 

To-day we had a visit from Mr. Secretary Seward and Mr. Con- 
gressman Washburn. I had some little talk with Mr. Seward, who 
told me that at the North and at the South, and everywhere abroad, 
there was a strong conviction the war would soon terminate, and, 
said he, when so many people, influenced in such different ways, all 
unite in one conviction, there must be reason to believe peace is at 
hand. He did not tell me on what he founded his hopes, nor did I 

Sheridan's defeat of Early will prove a severe blow to the rebs, 
and will, I think, compel them to do something pretty soon to re- 
trieve their lost prestige. There have been rumors they were going 
to evacuate Petersburg, and I should not be surprised if they did 
contract their lines and draw in nearer Richmond. I never did see 
what was their object in defending Petersburg, except to check us; 
it had no other influence, because, if we were able to take Richmond, 
we could take Petersburg; and after taking the one when resisted, 
the other would be more easily captured. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, September 27, 1864. 
Sheridan's victories are undoubtedly important, as all victories 
are; but it now turns out Early was preparing to leave the Valley, 
and a considerable part of his force had already gone, so that Sheri- 
dan when he attacked had greatly superior numbers. This is the 
secret of a great many brilliant victories. Nevertheless, the destruc- 
tion of a part of Early's forces, and the number of prisoners taken, 

1 Son of General Meade. 


are matters of great importance, sure to inspirit our army and people, 
and depress the enemy. These are points gained. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, October 1, 1864. 

I have only time to write you a few hurried lines. We have been 
actively engaged for the last two days, and yesterday we had a pretty 
sharp fight, gaining some advantages and meeting with some checks. 

George 1 and myself are well. Willie Sergeant 2 has arrived with 
his regiment, and is under my command. He is well and in good 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, October 3, 1864. 

I have not been able to write you for several days, as I have been 
so absorbed in our recent movements, which I believe are now suc- 
cessful. These consisted in a movement by Butler on the north side 
of the James, in the hope of surprising the enemy, and possibly get- 
ting into Richmond. The enemy was surprised, and part of his third 
line of defenses taken from him and is still held by us. As Lee was 
obliged to detach heavily to meet Butler's movement, it was thought 
probable I might, by extending to the left, get into Petersburg. I 
did extend my lines some two and a half miles, had quite a brisk 
affair with the enemy, but did not succeed in taking Petersburg. Of 
course, extending both flanks in this way, we had to weaken our 
centre, and this is the danger of this kind of movement; but Lee 
appears so determined to be prudent and cautious. He confines him- 
self strictly to the defensive, and lets slip the chances for a coup we 
offer him. 

On the second day, whilst I was on horseback on the field, talking 
to Generals Griffin and Bartlett, surrounded by my staff and escort, 
a shell fell in our midst, grazing Humphreys's horse, grazing and 
striking my left leg, just below the knee, passing between Griffin and 
Bartlett, and embedding itself in the ground in the centre of a group 
of officers, covering them all with earth, but without exploding or 
injuring a soul. A more wonderful escape I never saw. At first I 
thought my leg was gone, as I felt and heard the blow plainly, but 
it only rubbed the leather of my riding-boot, without even bruising 
the skin. Afterwards Colonel Lyman had the shell dug up, and is 
going to preserve it. How would you like to have me back minus a 
leg and on crutches? 

1 Son of General Meade. 2 Brother of Mrs. Meade. 


I have seen your brother Willie several times. He seems in good 
spirits and quite pleased at being assigned to the Army of the Poto- 
mac instead of Butler's army. I had no place on my staff for your 
friend Captain Wister, but General Humphreys will take him for the 
present, as two of his aides have just left him, their times being out, 
though they intend trying to get new commissions to rejoin him. 
George 1 is quite well. He was in the crowd when the shell dropped 
among us. 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, October 7, 1864. 

I was afraid you would be uneasy at not hearing from me during 
our recent operations, but my headquarters were some five or six 
miles from the scene of action, and it was always at midnight when 
I got back, tired out with the day's work, and had to start early in 
the morning, so that I really did not have time to write. 

I see the papers announce my narrow escape. It was a pretty 
close shave, as I have written you. You need not worry yourself; 
I am not going to commit the folly of foolish and unnecessary expos- 
ure. But there are times when it is my duty and it is proper I should 
take my chances. Let us hope Providence will always be as merci- 
ful and protecting as in this instance; for I take it, it was only God's 
will that saved my leg and perhaps my life. 

The enemy have allowed us to retain the ground acquired by our 
recent movement, and seem to be busy fortifying against another 
advance. We have been reinforced, but not to the extent imagined 
by the sanguine public; neither is Richmond so near its fall as you 
tell me people believe. However, these absurd alternations of exag- 
gerated anticipations of successes and reverses seem to be chronic 
with our people, and no amount of experience will ever cure them of 
the folly. 

I note all you say of politics, but in the army we take but little 
interest except earnestly to wish the election was over, as we see, 
until it is, nothing else will be thought of and no proper thought 
given to the war. It is generally believed here that McClellan has 
very little chance. I think he is very unfortunate in his friends and 

I see the Chronicle announces me as a supporter of Mr. Lincoln, 
and is pleased to class me among the ill-treated generals who have 
been driven into the opposition. Well, the one has as much author- 

1 Son of General Meade. 


ity for his assertion as the other, neither having anything on which 
to base his remarks. 

Grant has gone to Washington, leaving Butler in command. 
To-day the enemy made a demonstration on Butler, and I thought 
we were going to have a grand time, but it passed off. 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, October 9, 1864. 
We have at last heard of the fate of poor young Parker, who was 
on my staff. An officer recently returned from Richmond says he 
was captured by guerrillas near Bristol Station, a few days after 
Parker's disappearance; that when they were taking him off they 
cautioned him not to attempt to escape, for if he did they would 
be obliged to serve him as they had done General Meade's aide a few 
days before, who in spite of their cautions tried to get away, and 
they were forced to shoot him. I have no doubt this is a true state- 
ment of the poor fellow's fate. I have sent it to Cortlandt Parker. 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, October 11, 1864. 

I have been occupied all day riding round the lines, showing them 
to Major General Doyle, of the British Army, Governor of Nova 
Scotia, who has done this army the honor to visit it. The general is 
a very clever, intelligent and educated Irish gentleman. He is a 
brother to the then young Doyle, who, some thirty years since, was 
in this country attached to the British Legation under Sir Charles 

The general expressed himself very much amazed at the length of 
our lines and the amount of engineering work we had done, and said 
that in Europe they had no conception of the character of the war 
we are engaged in, the obstacles we have to encounter, and the 
completeness of our organization. De Chanal, indeed all our foreign 
visitors, say the same thing; and say it is impossible for us to realize 
the ignorance that exists in Europe of America and American affairs. 
General Doyle is the person who behaved so well recently at Halifax 
when the steamer Chesapeake was seized and carried in there, he 
giving up the vessel and crew to a United States vessel of war that 
was after her. Another visitor whom I had yesterday was a Mr. 
McGrath, a Commissioner from Pennsylvania, sent down to take the 
soldiers' vote to-day. He seemed rather disgusted with the result 
of his mission; said very few of the soldiers had qualified themselves 
to vote and altogether appeared quite indifferent. He seemed to 


think the soldiers' vote would be very insignificant. I have noticed 
this fact myself, that is the indifference to politics on the part of 
officers and men. They don't seem to have much respect for either 
party, and are of the opinion that the safety and honor of the coun- 
try are more dependent on what we do here than on the success of 
any political party. I don't say this is a very healthy or proper 
state of feeling, but I say it exists, and is due, I believe, in a great 
measure, to a want of confidence in the integrity and patriotism of 
party leaders. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, October 13, 1864. 

I undoubtedly do not occupy the position I did just after the 
battle of Gettysburg, and no one will retain any such position in 
this country, unless he continues to be successful; but when you 
compare my position with my numerous predecessors, McClellan, 
Pope, McDowell, Burnside, Hooker, Rosecrans, Banks, Sigel and 
many others, I think you will admit that my retaining command, 
and the hold I have at present, is even more creditable than the 
exaggerated laudation immediately succeeding Gettysburg. Recol- 
lect, also, that most persistent efforts have been made by influential 
men, politicians and generals, to destroy me, without success; and 
I think you will find reason to be grateful and satisfied, even though 
you should desire to see more justice done. I don't mean to say 
I have not been badly treated, but I do mean to say I might have 
been much worse treated, and that my present status is not without 
advantages, and does not justify my being discontented. 

I am very much distressed to hear that Sergeant 1 does not seem 
well enough to bear a sea voyage, and still hope the fine weather of 
the fall will enable him to gather strength. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, October 18, 1864. 
Yesterday General Grant came up in the morning with the Sec- 
retary of War, Secretary of the Treasury, the Collector of New York, 
Mr. Hooper, member of Congress from Boston, together with several 
military dignitaries. They spent a short time at my headquarters, 
from whence I took them to see a part of the lines, after which they 
returned to City Point, I accompanying them. At City Point I met 
Admiral Porter and Captain Frailey, each with his wife. As these 
ladies desired greatly to go to the front and see some rebels, I per- 

1 Son of General Meade. 


suaded their husbands to return with me, and we stopped the cars 
near Hancock's headquarters, inspected our line and the rebel works, 
and then went to Hancock's headquarters, who got us up a comfort- 
able supper, and after dark shelled the enemy's lines. They seemed 
greatly delighted, and returned about 10 p. M. to City Point. 
Mr. Stanton was, as he always is, most kind and civil to me. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, October 19, 1864. 

I am very glad you went to see Mrs. Birney. The telegraph 
to-day announces her husband's decease. This has shocked every 
one here, for no one had any idea he was so ill. General Birney is 
undoubtedly a loss to the army. He was a very good soldier, and 
very energetic in the performance of his duties. During the last 
campaign he had quite distinguished himself. I feel greatly for his 
poor wife, who is thus so suddenly deprived of her husband and pro- 
tector. When he left here he was said to be threatened with a seri- 
ous attack, but it was hoped change of air and being at home would 
keep it off. He must have been much more sick than persons gen- 
erally, or he himself, were aware of, because he was very reluctant 
to leave. 

To-day I had a visit from the Rev. Dr. Pyne, of Washington, who 
has come to the army to visit a poor creature, a Frenchman, who 
deserted the service and then re-enlisted to get the large bounties. 
He was sentenced to be shot, but at the earnest solicitation of Dr. 
Pyne, and of his representations, I remitted the sentence to impris- 
onment at the Dry Tortugas. 

I saw General Grant to-day, and we had a laugh over the ridicu- 
lous canard of my being relieved. He then told me he was asked in 
Washington if it was true, it being reported at the same time that 
he had resigned. These foolish reports were doubtless gotten up for 
political purposes and to affect the elections. 

To-day Robert Meade 1 went down the river in the flag-of-truce 
boat, having been exchanged. I saw a young navy officer who was 
captured at the same time and exchanged with Robert. He said 
Robert was well, but thin, as he had felt his captivity a good deal. 
His mother will be delighted to have him once more at home. 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, October 22, 1864. 
Since I wrote to you we have received the news of Sheridan's 
last victory — this time over Longstreet, and with an army that had 
1 Nephew of General Meade. 


been surprised and driven in disorder for four miles. This certainly 
is very remarkable, and if not modified by any later intelligence, will 
prove one of the greatest feats of the war, and place Sheridan in a 
position that it will be difficult for any other general to approach. 
We are now anxiously waiting to hear of his having followed up his 
success and taken Gordonsville, when he can destroy the railroad 
from Lynchburg to Richmond, which runs through Gordonsville, and 
is called the Virginia Central Road. If he does this, he will aid our 
operations here most materially, because, until that road is destroyed, 
we cannot compel the evacuation of Richmond, even if we succeed in 
seizing or breaking the Southside and the Danville Roads. I suppose, 
in a short time, a movement will be made to get on the Southside 
Road and complete the investment of Petersburg, from the Appo- 
mattox, below to above the town. 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, October 23, 1864. 
I have seen to-day for the first time a most virulent attack on 
me in Henry Ward Beecher's paper, the Independent 1 The piece 
has been in camp, I find, for several days, and many officers have 
been talking about it, but purposely refrained from letting me see it. 
I heard of it accidentally this afternoon at Grant's headquarters, 
where I was on business. I cannot imagine who is the instigator of 
this violent assault. The idea that I hang on Grant, like the Old 
Man of the Sea, and am retained in command in spite of that officer's 
desire to be rid of me solely on the ground of "fancied political 
necessity/ ' is most amusing. I had not seen the article when I was 
with Grant, or I should have called his attention to it. After all, it 
is probably not worth while to notice it. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, October 25, 1864. 
When I last wrote I told you of the fiendish and malicious attack 
on me in the New York Independent, Henry Ward Beecher's paper. 
I enclose you the article. I also send you a correspondence I have 
had with General Grant upon the subject, to whom I appealed for 
something that would set at rest these idle and malicious reports, 
based on the presumption I had failed to support him and that he 
was anxious to get rid of me. His reply, you will perceive, which 
was made by telegraph, while it expresses sympathy for the injustice 
acknowledged to be done me, proposes to furnish me with copies of 
the despatches he has written in which my name has been mentioned. 
1 For article mentioned, see Appendix Q. 


The number and character of these despatches I am ignorant of; 
nor do I know whether I would be authorized to publish General 
Grant's official despatches; but I shall await their receipt before 
taking any further action. This matter has worried me more than 
such attacks usually do, because I see no chance for the truth being 
made public, as it should be. However, I will not make any further 
comments, but leave these papers to speak for themselves. I wish 
you to preserve them with the other papers relating to my services. 

"Telegram" from Grant mentioned in last letter: 

Grant to Meade: 

City Point, Oct. 24, 1864. 

Your note by the hand of Lieut. Dunn is received. I have felt 
as much pained as you at the constant stabs made at you by a por- 
tion of the public press. I know nothing better to give you to use in 
answer to these charges than copies of every dispatch sent to Wash- 
ington by me in which your name is used. 

These will show at least that I have never expressed dissatisfac- 
tion at any portion of your services. 

To Mrs. George G. Meade : 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, October 27, 1864. 
I moved to-day with the greater portion of the Army of the Po- 
tomac, intending, if practicable, to make a lodgment on the Southside 
Railroad. We, however, found the enemy so strongly entrenched, 
and the character of the country was such, we were not able to ac- 
complish reaching the road. We have had some quite sharp fight- 
ing, principally Hancock's Corps on our side, in which we success- 
fully resisted the attempts of the enemy to check our advance or 
dislodge us from positions taken. We shall, however, I think, be 
under the necessity of returning to our entrenched lines. General 
Grant has been on the field all day, sanctioning everything that was 
done. At one time both Grant and myself were under a heavy 
artillery fire, but luckily none of either of our large corteges were 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, October 29, 1864. 
I had a conversation with Grant in reference to my letter about 
Beecher's article, and told him I did not care about his despatches, 
but desired he would furnish me a few lines for publication, that 


would set at rest, as far as he was concerned, the wicked and mali- 
cious falsehoods which that article contained. This he said he would 
most cheerfully give me. At the same time I told him that, whilst 
I did not doubt the good feeling of the President and Secretary for 
me, yet I was satisfied of the existence of a bitter hostility towards 
me on the part of certain supporters of the President, and I did not 
desire to embarrass Mr. Lincoln, nor did I wish to retain command 
by mere sufferance; and that, unless some measures were taken to 
satisfy the public and silence the persistent clamor against me, I 
should prefer being relieved; that I was becoming disheartened, and 
my usefulness and influence with the army were being impaired. In 
all successful operations I was ignored, and the moment anything 
went wrong I was held wholly responsible, and rather than continue 
in this way, I would prefer retiring, and desired him to say this to 
the President. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, October 31, 1864. 

I have reason to believe you are in error in imputing any sym- 
pathy on the part of Grant with my detractors. It is true he has 
not exerted himself to silence or contradict them, but this arises from 
a very different cause. Grant is very phlegmatic, and holds in great 
contempt newspaper criticism, and thinks, as long as a man is sus- 
tained by his own conscience, his superiors, and the Government, 
that it is not worth his while to trouble himself about the news- 
papers. At the same time, he has always expressed himself in the 
manner in which he did in the telegram I sent you. Differently con- 
stituted, with more sensitiveness in his nature, I don't doubt he would 
before now have taken some action, either in his official despatches, 
or in some other way given publicity to such opinions of my services 
as would set at rest these idle stories. 

In our recent move we captured Peyton Wise, Lieutenant Colonel 
Forty-sixth Virginia Infantry. You may remember him as Mrs. 
Tully Wise's bright boy, when we were first married. I did not see 
him, as he was taken to City Point before I knew of his capture, but 
I sent word to General Patrick, the Provost Marshal, to treat him 
as well as possible and furnish him with a little money. He wrote 
me a letter full of thanks, and expressing a great deal of very proper 
feeling. I understood if our men had gotten a little further into the 
enemy's works, they would have captured General Wise, 1 as he was 
not far from the place where Peyton was taken. 

1 Henry A. Wise, brother-in-law of Mrs. Meade. 


Grant has required me to make some kind of a report of the 
campaign, and I shall be very busy for some time. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, November 5, 1864. 
I have at length finished my report of the campaign. It was a 
pretty difficult task, to recount the operations of this army for the 
past six months, to do anything like justice, and at the same time 
avoid tedious and unnecessary details. I feel a little nervous about 
the result, as I do not see how I am to avoid errors and giving cause 
for offense, particularly if I tell the truth. I have confined myself, 
however, to a brief narrative of the actual movements, with as few 
comments as possible. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, November 7, 1864. 

I see you have taken the cue of the newspapers, and imagine the 
campaign is over, and that we are going into winter quarters; but 
you are greatly mistaken; I don't believe active operations will cease 
this winter unless we should have the good luck to get into Richmond. 
There seems to be quite a talk of Mr. Stanton's being made Chief 
Justice, and, were it not for the Senate, I should myself think it 
quite probable. I should, however, regret his leaving the War 
Department, for I do not know who there is to take his place, who 
would be as satisfactory. I should esteem it a great misfortune to 
see either Banks or Butler there. I have not seen General Grant 
since last Sunday week. I am, therefore, quite ignorant of what is 
going on; for being "out of the ring," I never ask any questions. 

To-morrow is election day. I hope it will pass off quietly, that 
all good citizens will submit to and abide by the result, and that, 
this question being settled, attention will be turned to filling our 
ranks and raising more troops, so that we can have the means of 
bringing this war to a close, which will never be over without much 
more hard fighting. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, November 9, 1864. 
The election passed off very quietly yesterday. About nineteen 
thousand votes, of which thirteen thousand five hundred were for 
Lincoln, and five thousand five hundred for McClellan, giving Lin- 
coln a majority in this army of about eight thousand votes. Of 
these, three thousand five hundred were the majority of the Penn- 
sylvania soldiers. During the day, much to my horror, one of the 


Republican agents reported the distribution of spurious or altered 
poll books, and charged certain Democratic agents as the parties 
guilty of the act. I had no other course to pursue than to arrest 
the parties complained against, until an investigation could be had. 
To-day we have been examining the matter, and there appears to be 
no doubt that poll books were brought here and distributed, having 
names of Republican electors misspelled and some omitted. The 
Democrats declare it is only a typographical error, and does not 
vitiate the use of the books, whereas the Republicans charge that it 
is a grave and studied effort to cheat the soldiers of their vote. In 
this dilemma I have applied to the Secretary of War, and asked 
for authority to send the parties either to Pennsylvania, to be tried 
by the courts there, or to Washington, to be disposed of by the 
Department and Doubleday's Commission, now trying the New York 
agent. This affair has bothered me very much. All these people 
are citizens of Philadelphia, and are said to be respectable. I had, 
however, but one course to pursue, and was compelled to notice the 
complaints presented to me. We have no news from the elections 
outside of the army, except that they passed off quietly with you 
and in New York; in the latter place, doubtless, owing to the pres- 
ence and order of Major General Butler. Well, the election is over, 
with the result I expected, and now I hope no time will be lost in 
regulating the army. 

I trust, now the election is over, measures will be taken to raise 
men to fill our ranks, and no time should be lost, as I don't think 
we can count on more than a month of good weather. To-be-sure, 
we can and doubtless will stay here all winter; and being so near 
each other, may manage to keep fighting on. But I don't think any 
operations involving any movement can be had after the beginning 
of December. 

Headquakters Army op the Potomac, November 11, 1864. 
I note all you write of dear Sergeant, 1 and of his condition. It is 
hard for me to know that he continues so sick, and that I cannot be 
with you to assist in taking care of him and in trying to keep up his 
courage and spirits. I never doubted Sergeant's firmness of purpose 
and moral courage. He had too often exhibited these qualities in 
the highest degree. I fully sympathize with you in your anxiety, but 
can only urge you to watch him closely. I am glad Mr. Keith goes 
1 Son of General Meade. 


to see him; the intercourse of good and liberal men and women 
cannot but be beneficial, and I consider Mr. Keith one of the best 
of men. 

The Secretary of War relieved me of my political imbroglio by 
ordering me to send the persons arrested to Washington. From all 
I could understand of the matter, these people are innocent of any 
wrong intended; it is known no wrong was actually perpetrated. 
Still, when they were charged by others with intent to commit fraud, 
I was compelled, under the orders of the Department and my own 
sense of duty, to hold them in arrest until the matter could be inves- 

Mr. Johnny Reb has been moving about to-day, as if he had 
taken it into his head to do something. I am sure I would be very 
grateful to Lee if he would try his hand at the offensive for awhile. 

To-day's papers say Sherman has burned Atlanta and moved on 
Charleston. This is a bold move, the success of which will depend 
on Thomas's ability to keep Hood out of Kentucky and Ohio. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, November 13, 1864. 

To-day I had a visit from a Colonel Coles, of the English Army, 
who is the Military Commandant of New Brunswick. He was quite 
a gentlemanly person. I took him around our lines and showed him 
all that was to be seen. 

Grant has gone to-day to pay a visit to Admiral Porter, at For- 
tress Monroe, and as Butler is absent, this leaves me in command of 
all the forces operating against Richmond. 

I suppose you have seen Mr. Davis's Message to the Confeder- 
ate Congress. Although a dignified and well-written document, to 
my mind it betrays unmistakable evidences of despondency. His 
proposition to arm and free forty thousand slaves, to make engineer 
soldiers, is most significant, for nothing but an acknowledged exhaus- 
tion of the white race could ever make him willing to free and arm 
the black race. The idea of limiting the number to forty thousand, 
and making them engineer soldiers, simply means that this is an 
experiment, the result of which is doubtful, and until the fidelity of 
the race is tested, it is better not to have too many. I think this is 
prudential on their part, for I cannot believe they will get the blacks 
to fight for them. 

Gibbon was here to-day, the first time I have seen him since his 


I judge from the tone of the Tribune, Washington Chronicle, and 
other Administration papers, that there is a disposition on the part 
of the successful party to be magnanimous and invite harmony 
among all the friends of the Union. I see it reported the President 
has declined McClellan's resignation, and it is said is going to give 
him a command. I doubt the latter part, but think the former very 
probable. I have no means of hearing or knowing anything that is 
going on till it is made public. I never go to City Point, and Grant 
does not come here, so that I am not au courant des affaires. 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, November 15, 1864. 

I am very glad Bishop Odenheimer was so kind as to visit you 
and talk to Sergeant, and am truly happy to hear dear Sergeant pro- 
poses to make public what I felt sure was the case, that he is a sin- 
cere and good Christian. With such a life of devotion to duty, and 
freedom from all the faults that youth is liable to, it needed for me 
no more evidence to feel satisfied that my dear boy was in the right 
path as far as human infirmity admitted. 

I hear from City Point this evening that McClellan's resignation 
has been accepted, and that Sheridan has been appointed a major 
general in the regular army. It is also reported that General Canby, 
commanding in Louisiana, has been mortally wounded whilst going 
up Red River. 

An officer called to see me to-day, just from Detroit, bringing me 
many kind messages from friends. This officer says that, whilst at a 
hotel in Columbus, Ohio, he heard a man publicly proclaim that the 
Army of the Potomac, under my influence, was going to vote for 
McClellan. My friend told the individual his statement was false, 
that he knew me and the army, and he knew I would never influ- 
ence a man for either side, and he knew the army would vote largely 
for Mr. Lincoln. But this report of my interference was circulated 
all through the Western country. 

To John Sergeant Meade : l 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, November 17, 1864. 
Well, the election is over, and nobody hurt. In the army it 
passed off very quietly, Mr. Lincoln receiving two votes to McClel- 
land one. This result was fully anticipated by me — indeed, Mc- 
Clellan's vote was larger than I expected. 

1 Son of General Meade. 


The election being over, it is now to be hoped the earnest atten- 
tion and best energies of the Government and people will be devoted 
to raising and sending men enough so to swell our armies that our 
onward movement will be irresistible, and the Confederacy convinced 
that further resistance is useless. There are significant signs that 
our enemies are beginning to feel the exhaustion and effects of a 
three years' war. Among these the most important is the proposi- 
tion of Mr. Davis to arm forty thousand slaves, who are to receive 
their freedom as a boon for faithful services. They are to be em- 
ployed, it is ingeniously said, as engineer troops, and to act as a re- 
serve to be called on in an emergency. This is a plausible disguise, 
to sound the temper of the Southern people on the question of arm- 
ing and freeing the slaves. Nothing but the conviction of the neces- 
sity of this measure could ever have justified its enunciation. It 
has produced the most violent discussions pro and con in the South- 
ern journals, and bids fair to be as great a firebrand with them as it 
has been with us. My own judgment is it will be abandoned, for 
although the number as yet is fixed at forty thousand, as a test, to 
see if the negroes can be relied on and will fight, I believe that the 
experiment will prove that the arming the slaves is more dangerous 
to the Confederacy than to us. I have no doubt that many will be 
faithful to their masters, but the great body will, after being armed, 
desert to us or go back to their homes. Now, in view of the posi- 
tion the South has always taken on this subject the change of ground 
can only be attributed to desperation, and a conviction that the war 
in its present gigantic proportions cannot much longer be carried on 
by the whites at the South. Should this theory be correct, the end 
cannot be far distant, when we have such armies in the field, as we 
ought to and I hope soon will have. 

I have recently picked up a story in verse by Owen Meredith, 
called " Lucille. " I don't suppose you are well enough to read a 
great deal. The story is quite interesting, and told with much 
pathos, though I don't think the poetry very superior. 

We have recently had an influx of John Bulls in the form of 
officers and others. You would have been delighted to see the ad- 
mirable display of whiskers, fine clothes, etc. An amusing incident 
occurred with Rosencrantz, who was showing a couple of them our 
lines. On finding him a foreigner, they were delighted and said, now 
you can tell us what the American officers really think of us. " Veil," 
said Rosey, "they no like you, they say, 'ven this war be over they 


vill take Canada/ " "God bless me, you don't say so," they ex- 
claimed, and did not ask Rosey any more questions of this nature. 
Approaching a part of the lines, where it was dangerous from sharp- 
shooters, Rosey said they had better not go, but they pooh-poohed 
him, and he started on. Pretty soon the balls began to fly pretty 
thick and close, when they changed their mind, expostulated, and 
finally begged Rosey to turn back, but he had his dander up and 
replied, "No, ve vill go on, ve vill go on," and go on he did, and 
return, fortunately without any one being hit. 

To Mrs. George G. Meade: 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, November 20, 1864. 

General Grant promised me he would, when in Washington, use 
all his influence to have justice done to me, disclaimed any agency 
in Sheridan's appointment, acknowledged I was entitled to it before, 
and ought now to be appointed his senior; and that if he found any 
difficulty in Washington (which he did not anticipate) he would have 
me relieved. He furthermore expressed regret at not having insisted 
on my appointment when Sherman was appointed, and assured me 
my not being assigned to the Middle Military Division was acciden- 
tal, as he always intended I should go there, until it was too late. 
Finally, he assured me, on his word of honor, he had never enter- 
tained or expressed any but the strongest feeling in my favor, and 
that whenever speaking or writing of me, he had expressed his appre- 
ciation of my services. Now, I believe Grant, hence my eyes are not 
opened by Sheridan's appointment. He was to return to Washing- 
ton to-night, spend to-morrow and perhaps the next day there, and 
then return here. I shall await his return and hear what he has 
to say. 

Ewry other officer in this army, except myself, who has been rec- 
ommended for promotion for services in this campaign has been 
promoted. It is rather hard I am to be the only exception to this 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, November 22, 1864. 
I do not know how the fact of my not voting has reached Phila- 
delphia, or is there considered a matter of importance. One of the 
Republican agents, formerly an officer in the Reserves, came to see 
me and desired I would vote at the polls of the regiment where he 


was going to be. I declined going to his polls, but did not intimate 
to him whether I was or was not going to vote. It is probable, how- 
ever, that some zealous partisan has watched to see what I did. I 
cannot but be flattered that so much importance is attached to 
my action, particularly as nearly all other general officers, including 
Grant, did the same — that is, not vote. 

I should like to see the article in the British Military Review 
you refer to. It is some consolation to know that distinguished for- 
eigners think well of you. 

To Henry A. Cram, 1 New York: 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, November 24, 1864. 

I thank you most gratefully for your opinion that Time and 
History will do me justice, but I very much fear your kind feeling 
has caused the wish to be father to the thought. No man in this 
country will be appreciated who does not dazzle his fellow-citizens 
with continued brilliant success. Fortunately I knew so much of 
the fickleness and unreasonableness of public opinion, that when I 
was elevated to my present position I was prepared for the reaction 
and my fall; indeed, considering all things, I consider myself very 
fortunate in having retained my position so long as I have. How- 
ever, I don't want to inflict a letter of complaints on you. I have 
done and shall continue to do my duty to the best of my ability, 
and try to be contented under whatever it may please God to have 
happen to me. Adopting the philosophy of the Irishman who, when 
going into battle, said he would consider himself "kilt"; if he was, 
it would be no more than he expected; if he got through safe, it 
would be clear gain. So, expecting nothing, all acts of justice and 
kindness that fall to my lot I shall consider so much gain. 

I am sorry to hear what you say of Grant, but it is in accordance 
with my theory and experience. Public expectation in his case, as 
in Sherman's, having been wrought up to a false and unreasonable 
pitch, expecting impossibilities and miracles, visits on them the failure 
to do what only public imagination renders practicable. Both these 
men at one time were down. Sherman was pronounced crazy, and 
Grant was at one time deprived of command; and now, should suc- 
cess by any accident attend the efforts of either, their stars will be 
more in the ascendant than ever. 

1 Brother-in-law of Mrs. Meade. 


Grant is not a mighty genius, but he is a good soldier, of great 
force of character, honest and upright, of pure purposes, I think, 
without political aspirations, certainly not influenced by them. His 
prominent quality is unflinching tenacity of purpose, which blinds 
him to opposition and obstacles — certainly a great quality in a com- 
mander, when controlled by judgment, but a dangerous one other- 
wise. Grant is not without his faults and weaknesses. Among these 
is a want of sensibility, an almost too confident and sanguine dispo- 
sition, and particularly a simple and guileless disposition, which is 
apt to put him, unknown to himself, under the influence of those who 
should not influence him, and desire to do so only for their own pur- 
poses. Take him all in all, he is, in my judgment, the best man the 
war has yet produced. When I say this, I refer more particularly 
to those I have come in contact with, and do not include Sherman, 
about whom I know nothing but what I see in the papers. I like 
Grant, and our relations have been very friendly. He has always 
in words expressed himself most kindly towards me, and I believe 
does feel so; but his acts, from causes alluded to above, have not 
been so; but I acquit him of any actual intention of injustice. His 
coming here has resulted virtually in setting me aside, almost as 
effectually as if I had been relieved. To be sure, I saw this plainly 
before he came. He did not see it then, and he don't see it now; 
there is the difference between us. I over-sensitive, and he deficient 
in sensibility. There are many things in Grant that call for my 
warmest admiration, and but few that I feel called on to condemn. 
He has been greatly over-rated; but I should be really sorry to see 
him, through a reaction, under-estimated. Let all this be confiden- 
tial between us. Grant will make use of me or any one else to carry 
out his views, but he will always do justice to others, though he 
may often be slow in doing so, and let slip opportunities presenting 
themselves, because he does not see they are opportunities. Early 
in the campaign he recommended me strongly for appointment as 
major general in the regular army, recommending Sherman at the 
same time. Yet he has not only had Sherman made, but has now 
permitted them to make Sheridan, who was not dreamed of at the 
time I was recommended. Still he did not appreciate that this was 
injustice to me; but when I called his attention to it, and explained 
how I thought it was unjust, he readily and frankly acknowledged 
I was right. 

I am very glad to hear you propose to visit camp this winter. 


Unless we are much stronger than we are now, I see no prospect of 
taking Richmond. It is a pure question of numbers, requiring on 
our part great superiority, and even then it is not going to be a very 
easy task. If the good people will only turn out and fight with the 
unanimity they have voted to do so, we will soon bring the war to 
a close. There is no doubt the last dependence of the South is a 
divided North. The election has not dissipated this hope; but swell- 
ing our armies, promptly and cheerfully, with the bone and sinew 
of the country (not miserable foreigners and substitutes), who come 
to fight, and not for money, this, when it happens, will, in conjunc- 
tion with hard fighting, open the eyes of the South and bring it to 
terms, if anything will. 

To Mrs. George G. Meade: 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, November 25, 1864. 

On my return from my visit to General Grant, I found your letter 
of the 23d inst. General Grant told me that, as soon as he spoke 
to the President, the President acknowledged the justice of his state- 
ments, and said he had hesitated when appointing Sheridan on the 
very ground of its seeming injustice to me, and he at once, at General 
Grant's suggestion, ordered the Secretary to make out my appoint- 
ment, to date from August 19th, the day of the capture of the Weldon 
Railroad, thus making me rank Sheridan and placing me fourth in 
rank in the regular army. Grant virtually acknowledged that my 
theory of Sheridan's appointment was the correct one, and that with- 
out doubt, had the matter been suggested at the time, I would have 
been appointed a few days in advance. 

As justice is thus finally done me, I am satisfied — indeed, I ques- 
tion, if left to me, whether I should have desired my appointment 
announced in the way Sheridan's has been. At one thing I am par- 
ticularly gratified, and that is at this evidence of Grant's truthfulness 
and sincerity. I am willing to admit, as he does himself, that his 
omissions have resulted unfavorably to me, but I am satisfied he is 
really and truly friendly to me. I like Grant, and always have done 
so, notwithstanding I saw certain elements in his character which 
were operating disadvantageously to me. 

To-morrow I am going with General Grant to visit General 
Butler's famous canal at Dutch Gap. Grant does not think Mr. 
Stanton will be removed, or that he desires the Chief-Justiceship. 


He says Stanton is as staunch a friend of mine as ever, and that 
the President spoke most handsomely of me. 

You will perhaps not be surprised to learn that Mr. Cropsey has 
again gotten himself into trouble. I received to-day a letter from 
General Hancock, complaining of Mr. Cropsey's account of our 
recent movement. I told General Hancock to put his complaints 
in the form of charges and I would have Mr. Cropsey tried by a 
commission, and abide by its decision. 

Hancock leaves us to-morrow, he having a leave of absence, after 
which he will be assigned to recruiting duty. Humphreys takes his 
place. The change in my position has rendered it unnecessary to 
have an officer of Humphreys's rank, as chief-of-staff. I deemed it 
due to him to suggest his name as Hancock's successor. 

Butler has finally succeeded in getting the colored troops with 
this army, replacing them with an equal number of white troops. 
He is going to organize a corps of colored troops, and expects to do 
very great things with them. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, November 27, 1864. 

Yesterday I accompanied General Grant on a visit to General 
Butler's lines and the famous Dutch Gap Canal, which I had never 
seen. We had a very pleasant day, remaining with Butler till after 
dark to witness some experiments with the Greek fire, and getting 
home about 11 p. m. 

I send you an extract from the Washington Chronicle, received 
to-day. It confirms what General Grant told me, and is designed 
to make people believe that I was already appointed when Sheridan 
was made. As Forney is closely allied with the powers that be, I 
take it for granted the above supposition is correct, and that he speaks 
by authority and for a purpose. I have no objection to this being 
arranged, so long as the essential point, justice to me, is conceded. 

I had a visit this evening from Dr. McEuen who is here to take 
away his son Charles, who is major of the One Hundred and Ninety- 
eighth Pennsylvania, and who is now quite sick with fever. The 
doctor seems in good spirits and not much changed, except being 
considerable greyer than I used to see him years ago. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, December 3, 1864. 
I received the two volumes of the Army and Navy Review 
(British) and have read with great interest Captain Chesney's cri- 


tique of the battle of Gettysburg. It is decidedly the most impartial 
account of this battle that I have read, and I think does more justice 
to my acts and motives than any account by my countrymen, includ- 
ing the grand address of Mr. Everett. What has struck me with 
surprise is the intimate knowledge of many facts not made very 
public at the time, such as Slocum's hesitation about reinforcing 
Howard, Butterfield's drawing up an order to withdraw, and other 
circumstances of a like nature. This familiarity with details evi- 
dences access to some source of information on our side, other than 
official reports or newspaper accounts. Captain Chesney's facts are 
singularly accurate, though he has fallen into one or two errors. I 
was never alarmed about my small arm ammunition, and after Han- 
cock's repulsing the enemy on the 3d, I rode to the left, gave orders 
for an immediate advance, and used every exertion to have an attack 
made; but before the troops could be got ready, it became dark. 
There is no doubt the fatigue and other results of the three days' 
fighting had produced its effect on the troops and their movements 
were not as prompt as they would otherwise have been. I have no 
doubt all his statements about Lee, and his having been overruled, 
are true. Lee never before or since has exhibited such audacity. I 
am glad this impartial account by a foreign military critic has been 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, December 4, 1864. 
I send you a telegram from the Secretary and my reply, which 
will show you the vexed question is at last settled. Much of the 
gratification that ought justly to accompany such a reward has been 
destroyed by the manner of doing it; so that what might have been 
a graceful compliment became reduced to a simple act of justice. 
Well, let us be satisfied with this, and believe it was more a want of 
knowledge how to do such things than any unfriendly feeling which 
caused it. 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, December 6, 1864. 
To-night my commission, or rather letter of appointment, as 
major general in the regular army, to date from August 18th, 1864, 
has arrived. George 1 has also received the appointment of major, 
by brevet, for gallantry and meritorious conduct on the campaign. 
Jim Biddle is also made lieutenant colonel, by brevet, for the same 

1 Son of General Meade. 


reasons. These appointments do not give them any increase of pay, 
but are an acknowledgment of the performance of their duty, and as 
such are much valued. I think I have reason to be proud that all my 
recommendations, amounting to two hundred, have been approved. 

To-morrow I send off an expedition under Warren, which I trust 
will result in something decisive, as we are all anxious to have mat- 
ters on a more settled basis than they now are before the winter. 

I feel some anxiety about Thomas in Tennessee. I think I wrote 
you some time ago, when I first heard of Sherman's movement, that 
its success would depend on Thomas's capacity to cope with Hood. 
I think it was expected Sherman's movement would draw Hood back 
to Georgia, but I anticipated just what he appears to be doing — a 
bold push for Kentucky, which, if he succeeds in, will far outbalance 
any success Sherman may have in going from Atlanta to the sea coast. 
Sherman took with him the largest part of his army, when he did not 
expect to meet any organized opposition, leaving Thomas with the 
lesser force to confront and oppose Hood, with the whole of his 
organized forces. I trust old Thomas will come out all right, but 
the news is calculated to create anxiety. 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, December 11, 1864. 
Five days ago I sent Warren, with a large force, to destroy the 
Weldon Railroad, which the enemy continue to use up to a certain 
point. It was expected Lee would send a force after him, and that 
we should have some sharp fighting, but to-day Warren is returning, 
having, undisturbed, effectually destroyed some twenty miles of the 
road. During Warren's absence we have had a violent storm and 
the poor men have suffered a great deal, but this is one of the evils 
of war and must be borne. 

To Mr, Henry A. Cram, 1 New York: 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, December 11, 1864. 
I fear you good people confine your efforts to suppress the Rebel- 
lion too much to speechifying, voting, and other very safe and easy 
modes of showing firm determination never to yield; but the essen- 
tial element to success, namely, turning out to fight, don't seem to 
be so popular. You will have to stop filling quotas without adding 
to your armies before you can expect to finish the war. Do you 

1 Brother-in-law of Mrs. Meade. 


know that the last loud call for five hundred thousand men has pro- 
duced just one hundred and twenty thousand ? Of these only about 
sixty thousand were sent to the field, and the share of my army, one 
of the largest in the field, was not over fifteen thousand; and of 
this number the greater part were worthless foreigners, who are daily 
deserting to the enemy. These are sad facts. I remember you were 
struck last winter with my telling the Councils of Philadelphia that 
this army, of whose fighting qualities there seemed to be a doubt, 
had lost, from official records, from April, 1862, to December, 1863, 
one hundred thousand, killed and wounded. I have now an official 
document before me in manuscript, being my report of the campaign 
from the Rapidan to the 1st of November, and it has a list of cas- 
ualties showing the enormous number of ninety thousand men, killed, 
wounded and missing. All this is strictly confidential, as I would 
be condemned for telling the truth; but when people talk to me of 
ending the war, I must tell them what war is and its requirements; 
because you can then see how much prospect there is of finishing it, 
by forming your own judgment of the adaptation of the means to 
the end. No, my good friend, this war is not going to be ended till 
we destroy the armies of the Confederation; and in executing this 
work we shall have to expend yet millions of treasure and vast num- 
bers of lives. Nothing is gained by postponing the exigencies which 
must be met. The people must make up their minds not only that 
the war shall be carried on, they must not only subscribe and cheer- 
fully pay money to any extent, but they must themselves turn out, 
shoulder their muskets and come to the army, determined to fight 
the thing out. When I see that spirit, the men coming, and doing 
the fighting, then I will begin to guess when the war will be closed. 
Undoubtedly, the South is becoming exhausted; its calmly discuss- 
ing the expediency of freeing and arming the slaves is positive evi- 
dence of its exhaustion and desperation; but unless we take advantage 
of this by increasing our armies and striking telling blows, it can pro- 
long such a contest as we are now carrying on indefinitely. 

I thank you for your kind congratulations on my appointment as 
major general in the regular army. If confirmed by the Senate, it 
places me fourth in rank in the army — Grant, Halleck and Sherman 
only being my seniors. Putting me ahead of Sheridan, from the 
popular position that officer now holds, may create opposition in the 
Senate; but it is well known my appointment was recommended by 
the lieutenant general, commanding, approved and determined on 


by the President, when Sheridan was my subordinate, commanding 
my cavalry, and before he had an opportunity of distinguishing him- 
self, as he has since done. No injustice, therefore, has been done 
him, though when his appointment was announced in the theatrical 
manner it was, and mine not made, I felt called on to ask an explana- 
tion, which resulted in a disavowal to do me injustice, and the ap- 
pointing me with a date which caused me to rank, as it was originally 
intended I should. So that, what ought to have been an acceptable 
compliment, became eventually a simple act of justice due to my 
remonstrance. Still, I ought to be and am satisfied and gratified, 
because I think it quite probable we are both of us placed far beyond 
our merits. I am afraid you will tire of so much personality and 
think I am greatly demoralized. 

To Mrs. George G. Meade : 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, December 16, 1864 

I received this evening your letter of the 14th inst., having re- 
ceived day before yesterday the one dated the 12th. I am sorry the 
good public should have been disappointed in the result of Warren's 
expedition, but the facts are, as I stated them, he accomplished all 
that he went for, namely, the destruction of some eighteen miles of 
the Weldon Railroad. 

This passion of believing newspaper and club strategy will I 
suppose never be eradicated from the American public mind, 
notwithstanding the experience of four years in which they have 
from day to day seen its plans and hopes and fears dissipated by 

I don't anticipate either Grant or his campaign will be attacked 
in Congress. In the first place he has too many friends; in the next 
place, Congress having legislated him into his present position, he 
can only be removed by their act, and that would be stultifying 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, December 18, 1864. 
I am glad you saw Major Smith and liked him. I found him very 
intelligent and amiable. I gave him a letter to Oliver Hopkinson, as 
he wanted to see some duck-shooting; but I believe he found some 
one in Baltimore who put him in the way of having some sport. 
I knew that Captain Chesney was the instructor of engineering at 


the Military College of Woolwich, but was not aware that his ser- 
vice had been confined to this duty. 

We have all been greatly delighted at the good news from Ten- 
nessee. Thomas is very much liked by all who know him, and things 
at one time looked unfavorable for him, it appearing as if he was 
giving Hood too much time; but it now turns out Old Thorn, as we 
call him, knew what he was about, and has turned the tables com- 
pletely. Don't you remember, when we were at West Point, meet- 
ing his wife, who was at the hotel? He was then in Texas, and she 
was expecting him home. She was a tall good-natured woman, and 
was quite civil to us. 

I don't believe the bill to cut off the heads of generals will either 
pass the Senate or be approved by the President. By-the-by, I see 
the Senate, on motion of Mr. Anthony, of Rhode Island, has directed 
the Committee on the Conduct of the War to enquire into the Mine 
fiasco on the 30th of July, and that Burnside has already been sum- 
moned to testify. This is a most ill advised step on the part of 
Burnside and his friends, and can only result in making public the 
incompetency of that officer. I would, of course, rather not have to 
appear again before this committee, because they are prejudiced and 
biased against me, and their examinations are not conducted with 
fairness. Still, I shall not shrink from the contest. 

Grant is still in Washington, though expected back to-morrow. 
The change of affairs in Tennessee will render his presence there 

An expedition sailed the other day from Fortress Monroe, com- 
posed of the fleet and a detachment of troops. Grant took these 
from Butler's army, intending Weitzel should command them; but 
much to every one's astonishment, Butler insisted on going, and did 
go, with the expedition. 

Mrs. Lyman has sent me a Christmas present of a box of nice 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, December 20, 1864. 
I have had a hard day to-day. This morning Messrs. Chandler 
and Harding, of the Senate, and Loan and Julian, of the House, all 
members of the Committee on the Conduct of the War, made their 
appearance to investigate the Mine affair. They gave me a list of 
witnesses to be called, from which I at once saw that their object 
was to censure me, inasmuch as all these officers were Burnside's 
friends. They called me before them; when I told them it was out 


of my power, owing to the absence of my papers and official docu- 
ments, to make a proper statement; that this whole matter had 
been thoroughly investigated by a court ordered by the President; 
the proceedings of which court and the testimony taken by it, were 
on file in the War Department, and I would suggest their calling 
for them as the best mode of obtaining all the facts of the case. I 
then read them my official report, and after numerous questions by 
Mr. Loan, who evidently wished to find flaws, I was permitted to 
leave. Mr. Chandler promised me to apply for the testimony taken 
by the court, and to let me know the answer given. In case the 
Department refuse, I shall then submit to the committee a copy of 
my testimony, as my statement of the case. I asked the committee 
to call before them General Hunt and Colonel Duane, two of my 
staff; but these officers came out laughing, and said as soon as they 
began to say anything that was unfavorable to Burnside, they stopped 
them and said that was enough, clearly showing they only wanted to 
hear evidence of one kind. I don't intend to worry myself, but shall 
just let them take their course and do as they please; but I must 
try and find some friend in the Senate who will call for the proceedings 
of the court, and have them published. Mr. Cowan, from Penn- 
sylvania, is the proper person, but I do not know him, and, more- 
over, do not want to run against Mr. Stanton, so perhaps will wait 
till I see the Secretary and can talk with him before I take any action. 
I presume their object is to get some capital to operate with, to 
oppose the confirmation of my nomination in the Senate. 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, December 23, 1864. 

I have received a letter from the Earl of Fife, in Scotland, asking 
my good offices for a young kinsman of his, who, he understands, has 
got a commission in my army. I think I told you some time ago I 
had a letter from a Mr. Duff, just arrived in New York, asking to 
be taken on my staff, and sending a letter of introduction from Cap- 
tain Schenley. I replied he would first have to get a commission, 
and indicated to him how to go about it. Since then I have not 
heard from him, but presume, from the Earl of Fife's note, that he 
has succeeded in getting the commission, but perhaps has changed 
his mind as to the staff appointment. 

Colonel James Biddle has gone on leave. Young Emory has also 
gone, to get married, and talks of trying to get a commission of col- 
onel in Hancock's new corps. Mason has got a leave, and Lyman 
I let go also, so that headquarters are a good deal changed. 


I think the Confederacy is beginning to shake, and if we only can 
get the three hundred thousand men the President has called for, and 
they prove good fighting men, I believe next summer we will conquer 
a peace, if not sooner. God grant it may be so! l 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, 

Tuesday Evening, January 10, 1865. 

I reached City Point at 6 p. m. to-day. I found the cause of my 
recall to be as I expected. General Grant had received information 
of Lee's sending off two divisions of troops, and was, and is, under 
the impression that it is the commencement of the evacuation of 
Richmond. Should this prove to be the case, or should Lee mate- 
rially weaken his force, we will take the initiative, and for this con- 
tingency I was required. I explained to General Grant Sergeant's 2 
condition and my earnest desire to remain with him. He expressed 
regret he had not known all I told him, and promised to let me re- 
turn to Philadelphia as soon as this affair was settled. As I do not 
believe Lee is going to give us any chance, I am in hopes it will not 
be long before I return. I telegraphed you this morning from For- 
tress Monroe, because we had last night an accident on the bay, which 
I feared might be exaggerated in the papers, and you alarmed. The 
night was dark and foggy, and we were run into by a schooner. 
Fortunately the damage was confined to the upper works, and 
although four lives were lost, and several bruised, we received no 
material injury, and our boat continued on. For a time, however, 
before the extent of the injury was known, there was much alarm 
and excitement on board our boat, which was unusually crowded, 
owing to the ice on the Potomac. 

The great subject of discussion in the army is the recent relieving 
of General Butler. 3 He was relieved by the President, on Grant's 
request. The particular cause had not been made public. 

It is hardly necessary I should tell you how much I have suffered 
since I left you. All I can do is earnestly to pray God to have mercy 
on dear Sergeant and yourself, and to give you strength to bear up 
under the affliction you are visited with. My heart is too full to 
write more. 

1 General Meade left camp on December 30, for Philadelphia, where he arrived 
on December 31. He left Philadelphia on January 9. 

2 Son of General Meade. 

5 General Benjamin F. Butler, commanding the Federal troops, failed to take 
Fort Fisher, Wilmington, N. C., and withdrew Dec. 25, 1864. 


Headquarters Army op the Potomac, January 14, 1865. 

I am sorry to hear what you write people say of Grant, because 
it is unjust, and I do not approve of injustice to any one. Grant 
undoubtedly has lost prestige, owing to his failure to accomplish 
more, but as I know it has not been in his power to do more, I can- 
not approve of unmerited censure, any more than I approved of the 
fulsome praise showered on him before the campaign commenced. 
Butler's removal has caused great excitement everywhere. He will 
have some very powerful influences exerted in his favor, and he will 
use them efficiently. I see Wilson has moved in the Senate that the 
Committee on the Conduct of the War enquire and report on the 
Wilmington fiasco. This is the beginning of a war on Grant. 

Gibbon has been assigned to the Twenty-fourth Corps, in Ord's 
place, who takes Butler's army. This has pleased him very much, 
and when here to-day to say good-by he was in quite a good humor. 
I shall probably have to send Webb to Gibbon's division, although I 
believe he would prefer remaining on my staff. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, January 17, 1865. 

To-day we have the news that the second expedition has suc- 
ceeded in taking Fort Fisher, which is a most important and brill- 
iant success. It will, however, have a most damaging effect on 
Butler's case, and will also materially injure Weitzel's reputation. 
I must confess I thought Butler's report cleared him in every par- 
ticular except two. First, he should not have wasted three days, 
waiting for the enemy, when he knew the fort was weakly garrisoned. 
Secondly, he should not have left there because an assault was im- 
practicable; and his statement that a siege was not within his instruc- 
tions, is contradicted by Grant's written instructions, which say 
that, if a landing is effected, and the work not carried, he is to en- 
trench and hold on. There will, no doubt, be bitter controversy on 
these points. 

Grant has been away for three days, to parts unknown, though I 
suppose Wilmington. 

To Mr. Henry A. Cram, 1 New York: 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, January 21, 1865. 
I have received yours of the 18th, with enclosures. The intelli- 
gence conveyed in Mr. 's letter is not news to me, except that 

1 Brother-in-law of Mrs. Meade. 


I have not been able to believe I was in danger of rejection. I, of 
course, expected opposition, and that it would be violent and malig- 
nant, being based on falsehood and personal hostility; but I did not 
suppose it would be formidable in numbers, and I have been relying 
on the truth, my record, and the fact that I was sustained by the 
Administration and Grant. I have, I know, some friends in the 
Senate, but they are few in number, being only such as I have acci- 
dentally met in the few visits I have paid to Washington. The Mili- 
tary Committee reported favorably on my nomination, but it is a 
rule of the Senate, when acting on nominations, to lay aside any 
name as soon as objection is made, so as to avoid discussion until 
they get through the list of those names to whom there is no objec- 
tion offered. One man can thus postpone action in any case, and I 
take it this is all that has yet been done with me. Undoubtedly, 
when my name came up, either Mr. Wilkinson, of Minnesota, or An- 
thony, of Rhode Island, has objected, and under the rule I was laid 
aside. I expect to meet the opposition of the Tribune and Indepen- 
dent clique, then all such as can be influenced by , , , 

and others, each one of whom, of course, has some friends. 

Whether they can concentrate enough votes to defeat me, remains 
to be seen. Grant is now in Washington. He promised to see Wil- 
son, the Chairman of the Military Committee (who is friendly), and 
write a letter, to be read in the Senate, urging my confirmation. 1 
One difficulty I have to contend with is that those who are disposed 
to hit the President, Secretary or Grant, think they are doing so in 
hitting me. The nomination is, after all, only a compliment, and of no 
real practical value, as it will not deprive me of my superior rank in 
the volunteer service or my present command, the largest in the field. 
It is, nevertheless, mortifying to have a compliment thus detracted 

To Mrs. George G. Meade : 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, January 22, 1865. 
There is very little going on here. We have had a violent storm 
of rain. Grant is still away, and I have heard nothing from Markoe 
Bache, so that I am ignorant of what turn affairs are taking in Wash- 
ington. I received a letter yesterday from Cram, enclosing me one 
from a correspondent in Washington, who advises him (Cram) that 

1 For letters mentioned, see Appendix R. 


he has been reliably informed that I am likely to be rejected. Still, 
this may be a street rumor, circulated by those who want this 

To-day Bishop Lee, of Delaware, held service in the chapel tent 
at these headquarters, and gave us a very pood sermon. He came 
here with Bishop Janeway, of the Methodist Church, and a Mr. 
Jones, a lawyer from Philadelphia, who were a commission asking 
admission into the rebel lines, to visit our poor prisoners in their hands 
to relieve their spiritual wants; but I believe the Confederate authori- 
ties declined. 

The Richmond papers are very severe on Davis, and there is 
every indication of discord among them. I hope to Heaven this will 
incline them to peace, and that there may be some truth in the many 
reports in the papers that something is going on! 1 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, February 1, 1865. 

I reached City Point at twelve o'clock last night, having had a 
very comfortable journey via Annapolis. We found a good deal of 
ice in the Chesapeake Bay and considerable in the James River; but 
to-day has been so mild and pleasant I think the ice will disappear. 

From all I can gather, the Secretary's telegram must have been 
based on something Ord sent to Washington; for Grant did not re- 
turn till Monday night, and in ignorance of Mr. Stanton's telegram, 
sent me one himself, yesterday morning. 

I found on my arrival, last night, that three distinguished gentle- 
men, Mr. Alexander Stephens (Vice President of the Confederacy), 
Mr. R. M. T. Hunter (formerly United States Senator from Virginia), 
and Mr. Campbell, of Alabama (formerly Judge United States Su- 
preme Court), were in our lines, having been passed in by General 
Grant, on their expressing a wish to go to Washington. After Grant 
had admitted them, he received a telegram from Washington directing 
they be retained outside our lines until a messenger despatched from 
Washington could arrive. They are now awaiting this messenger. 
They do not profess to be accredited commissioners, but state they 
are informal agents, desiring to visit the President and ascertain if 
any measures are practicable for the termination of the war. I called 
this morning, with General Grant, on them, and remained after Gen- 
eral Grant left, and talked very freely with them. I told them very 

1 General Meade left head-quarters for Philadelphia where he arrived January 
28. He left Philadelphia on the 30th. 


plainly what I thought was the basis on which the people of the 
North would be glad to have peace, namely, the complete restoration 
of the Union and such a settlement of the slavery question as should 
be final, removing it forever as a subject of strife. Mr. Stephens 
suggested that, if we could stop fighting, the matter might be dis- 
cussed. I told him promptly that was entirely out of the question; 
that we could not stop fighting unless it was for good, and that he 
might be assured any proposals based on a suspension of hostilities 
would not be received. Mr. Stephens then said they did not con- 
sider the slavery question as so formidable a difficulty, but they 
feared the difficulty would be to obtain such modification of the old 
Constitution as would protect the States, in case of other questions 
arising to produce strife. I said if you mean to propose a reorganiza- 
tion and change in our Government, I don't think you will meet with 
any success. We are satisfied with our Constitution, and you seem 
to be, since yours is identically ours, excepting the protection you 
give to slavery. Mr. Hunter then asked me what we proposed to do 
with the slaves after freeing them, as it was well known they would 
not work unless compelled. I replied this was undoubtedly a grave 
question, but not insurmountable; that they must have labor, and 
the negroes must have support; between the two necessities I thought 
some system could be devised accommodating both interests, which 
would not be so obnoxious as slavery. They then said they thought 
it a pity this matter could not be left to the generals on each side, 
and taken out of the hands of politicians. I answered I had no 
doubt a settlement would be more speedily attained in this way, but 
I feared there was no chance for this. 

We then conversed on general topics. Judge Campbell asked 
after your family, and Mr. Hunter spoke of Mr. Wise, and said he 
had brought two letters with him, one of which I herewith enclose. 

I judge from my conversation that there is not much chance of 
peace; I fear we will split on the questions of an armistice and State 
rights. Still, I hope Mr. Lincoln will receive them and listen to all 
they have to say, for if it can be shown that their terms are imprac- 
ticable, the country will be united for the further prosecution of the 
war. At the same time the selection of three most conservative of 
Southern men indicates most clearly to my mind an anxiety on the 
part of Mr. Davis to settle matters if possible. All this I have writ- 
ten you must be confidential, as it would not do to let it be known 
I had been talking with them, or what I said. 


I do most earnestly pray something may result from this move- 
ment. When they came within our lines our men cheered loudly, 
and the soldiers on both sides cried out lustily, "Peace! peace I" 
This was intended as a compliment, and I believe was so taken by 

I am sorry I could not stay longer with you, but I don't believe 
I should have had any satisfaction, as every report brought in would 
have a recall telegram. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, February 2, 1865. 

Grant sent me a note this morning, saying a telegram from Wash- 
ington announced my confirmation yesterday by a heavy majority; 
thus I have gained another victory, and have found that I really 
have more friends than I had any idea of. 

There have been some English officers here this evening from the 
frigate Galatea, and they have kept me up so late that I cannot write 
as much as I would wish. 

I thought my last visit was, excepting dear Sergeant's 1 sickness, 
most happy, but I cannot be happy and see my noble boy suffering 
as he does. I think of him all the time, and feel at times like asking 
to be relieved, that I may go home and help you nurse him. May 
God in his infinite mercy restore him to health, is my constant 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, February 4, 1865. 

I hear from Washington the vote on my confirmation was thirty- 
two to five. I have not heard the names of my opponents, but 
their number is about what I expected, and I have no doubt they 
are all like Chandler, men whose opposition is rather creditable 
to you. 

As to the Peace Commissioners, I presume their arrival will make 
a great stir; I have written you what passed between us when I 
called on them. I understand they afterwards went down to For- 
tress Monroe, where they met, some say, the President, and others, 
Mr. Seward. To-day they returned to Richmond, but what was the 
result of their visit no one knows. At the present moment, 8 P. M., 
the artillery on our lines is in full blast, clearly proving that at this 
moment there is no peace. I fear there is not much chance of any 

1 Son of General Meade. 


agreement between the contending parties until more decided suc- 
cesses are gained on our side. 

I would have liked to have sent a few lines to Johnny Wise by 
the Commissioners, but they went up the river, and did not pass 
through my lines. 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, February 7, 1865. 

I have not written you for several days, owing to being very 
much occupied with military operations. Day before yesterday to 
prove war existed, whatever might be the discussions about peace, 
I moved a portion of my army out to the left. The first day the 
enemy attacked Humphreys, who handsomely repulsed him. The 
next day (yesterday) Warren attacked the enemy, and after being 
successful all day, he was towards evening checked and finally com- 
pelled to retrace his steps in great disorder. This morning, notwith- 
standing it was storming violently, Warren went at them again, and 
succeeded in recovering most of the ground occupied and lost yes- 
terday. The result on the whole has been favorable to our side, and 
we have extended our lines some three miles to the left. The losses 
have not been so great as in many previous engagements, and I hear 
of but few officers killed or severely wounded. 

I have been in the saddle each day from early in the morning till 
near midnight, and was too much exhausted to write. 

Colonel Lyman sent me a box, which he said contained books and 
pickles. I find, on opening it, that there are about a dozen nice 
books and a box of champagne; so you can tell dear Sergeant he is 
not the only one that gets good things. 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, February 9, 1865. 
I note you have seen the report of the Committee on the Conduct 
of the War, about the Mine. You have done Grant injustice; he 
did not testify against me; but the committee has distorted his testi- 
mony, my own, and that of every one who told the truth, in order 
to sustain their censure. When you see all the testimony you will 
find their verdict is not sustained. Immediately on the appearance 
of this report Grant sent me a despatch, a copy of which I enclose, 
and from it you will see what he thinks of the course of the commit- 
tee, and of Burnside's testimony. 1 I replied to him that, after the 

1 For despatch mentioned, see Appendix S. 


acknowledgment of my services by the President, the Secretary and 
himself, and the endorsement of the Senate, as shown by the large 
vote in my favor, I thought I could stand the action of the com- 
mittee, and I felt confident that when the facts and the truth were 
laid before the public, the report of the committee would prove a more 
miserable failure than the explosion of the Mine. I, however, asked 
him to exert his influence to have published the proceedings of the 
court of inquiry. He has gone to Washington, and I am in hopes 
he will have this done; I think Burnside has used himself up. 

Richmond papers of the 7th, have a message from Davis and the 
report of the commissioners, from which it appears they required 
recognition as an independent power, precedent to any negotiations. 
Of course this was out of the question, and I think Mr. Lincoln's 
course ought to meet the approval of all true patriots. 

We cannot and ought not ever to acknowledge the Confederacy 
or its independence, and I am surprised they took the trouble to 
send men into our lines with any such ideas. This conference ought 
to unite the North to a vigorous prosecution of the war; and the 
people, if they do not volunteer, should submit cheerfully to the 
draft. In the same paper, which I send you, is an obituary notice 
of Beckham, who, it appears, was killed in one of Thomas's fights at 
Columbia, in Tennessee, he being colonel and chief of artillery to 
S. D. Lee's Corps. Poor fellow, he and Kirby Smith have both been 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, February 11, 1865. 
I see the Tribune, with its usual malice, charges the recent move- 
ment as a failure, and puts the blame on me. I told Grant, before 
the movement was made, it would be misunderstood and called a 
failure. But he promised to telegraph to Washington what we in- 
tended to do, thinking by this to avoid this misapprehension. His 
telegram, if he sent one, was never published, nor has any of his or 
my telegrams to him about the affair been made public. Now, the 
facts of the case are that I accomplished a great deal more than was 
designed, and though the Fifth Corps at one time was forced back, 
yet we repulsed the enemy the day before, had been driving him all 
that day, and the next day drove him into his works, and on the whole 
the success was with us. It is rather hard under these circumstances 
to be abused; but I suppose I must make up my mind to be abused 
by this set, never mind what happens, 


Willie's 1 regiment was in the thickest of the fight and suffered 
severely, but I believe behaved very well. 

There is now here an artist in bronze, of the name of Simmons, 
who is sculpturing a life-size head of me, of which he intends casting 
a medallion in bronze. His work is pronounced excellent, and he 
promises to present you a copy, so you will have your Meade art 
gallery increased. Grant is still away. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, February 13, 1865. 

There is no chance for peace now. The South has determined 
to fight another campaign, and it is to be hoped the North will be 
equally united, and turn out men to fill up all our present armies 
and form others at the same time. 

Grant returned from Washington to-day. He forgot to say any- 
thing about the court of inquiry, so I have to-day telegraphed Mr. 
Stanton, asking him to have the proceedings published. 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, February 21, 1865. 

I told George 2 last evening to write to you and acknowledge the 
receipt of your letters of the 17th and 18th, also your telegram of the 
20th. The latter I did not understand until this evening, when 
George received a letter from Jim Biddle, of the 19th, from which I 
infer Sergeant was considered sinking on Sunday, and finding him 
better on Monday, you telegraphed. George will leave to-morrow, 
and will take this. It is impossible for me to go to you, unless I 
resign my command. If I left for a short time, I should undoubtedly 
be recalled almost as soon as I reached there. Besides, to be with 
you for a few days would be but little satisfaction to you; and as 
to dear Sergeant, 3 his condition is such that I presume it does not 
make much difference who is with him. For your sake I should 
like to be home, and for my own, but it is God's will, and I must 

My duty to you and my children requires I should retain the high 
command I now have. My reputation and your interests are in- 
volved, and I cannot shut my eyes to these considerations, however 
cruel may be the conclusion that I cannot be at your side and that 
of my dear boy in this hour of agony and trial. We must all en- 

1 William Sergeant, brother of Mrs. Meade. 2 Son of General Meade. 

3 Son of General Meade. 


deavor to be resigned to God's will. We cannot avert the severe 
affliction with which it has pleased Him to visit us, doubtless for 
some good purpose. All we can do is to bear it with humility and 
resignation, and endeavor to profit by it, in preparing ourselves, as 
I believe my beloved son is prepared. 

Dear Margaret, let me rely on your exhibiting in this, the great- 
est trial you have had in life, true Christian fortitude. Bear up, in 
the consciousness that you have ever devoted all the energy of a 
tender mother's love to check and avert the fatal disease that is 
carrying off our first born; all that human power could do has been 
done. Our boy has had warning, and not only his good life, but the 
consciousness that he knew and was prepared for the change, should 
sustain us in that parting which had to be encountered one day, for 
we all must die in time. 

George will tell you all about me. 1 

War Department, Washington City, 12 m., February 27, 1865. 

I take advantage of a delay, waiting to see the Secretary, to send 
you a few lines. I slept nearly all the journey, much to my surprise; 
but I was grateful it was so, as I feel in consequence much better 
than if I had lain awake all night. 

Hardy Norris was very kind to me this morning, and accom- 
panied me to the hotel, where we breakfasted, after which I came 
up here. 

General Hancock left suddenly yesterday for Western Virginia. 
This has given rise to rumor of movements of Lee in that direction, 
but I have heard nothing reliable in this respect. I saw General 
Hooker this morning at breakfast. He was very affable and civil, 
and enquired particularly after you, expressing deep sympathy with 
us in our affliction. This feeling has been manifested by all whom 

I have met, including Senator Foster, Mr. Odell and others. 

I hardly dare think of you in your lonely condition, surrounded 
by so many associations of our beloved boy. God have mercy on 
you and send you submission and resignation! No human reasoning 

1 General Meade left headquarters at 12 o'clock noon, on February 21, for 
Philadelphia, and arrived there at 10 p. m., on the 23d. Before General Meade 
had reached his home the newspapers announced the death of his son Ser- 
geant on the 21st instant at 11 p. m. General Meade left Philadelphia at 

II p. m. on the 26th for the army, having been hurriedly sent for by the Secre- 
tary of War. 


can afford you or myself any consolation. Submission to God's will, 
and the satisfaction arising from the consciousness that we did our 
duty by him, is all that is left us. 

I shall leave here at 3 p. m., and will write to you on my arrival 
at my headquarters. 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, February 28, 1865. 

After writing to you yesterday I saw the Secretary, who was as 
usual very kind. He apologized for ordering me away when he did, 
and said he had forgotten dear Sergeant's sickness, and some tele- 
grams coming from Ord he did not like, he thought, in Grant's ab- 
sence, I had better be there. He wanted me to stay in Washington 
over night, but I declined, when he directed a special steamer to be 
got ready to take me at seven in the evening. From the Depart- 
ment I went to the Capitol, where I saw Mr. Cowan and Judge Harris. 
They both said they would see that the same number of copies of 
the proceedings of the court of inquiry were ordered to be printed 
as had been ordered of the committee's report. 

I had a pleasant journey, there being no one on board but General 
Wheaton and myself. We reached City Point at 1 P. M. to-day. I 
spent two hours with General Grant, reaching my headquarters about 
half-past four this afternoon. 

I find we have not been attacked, and Petersburg has not been 
evacuated, although I should judge there had been a stampede ever 
since I left, and that both contingencies had been expected. It has 
been raining, I am told, nearly all the time I have been absent, and 
the roads are in an awful condition. 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, March 2, 1865. 

Lyman 1 has returned without waiting for my summons, he becom- 
ing nervous for fear some movement of Lee's might precipitate mat- 
ters before he could get notice, and if the army should move, it might 
be a difficult matter to join it. 

I see by the papers Howard and Schofield have been made briga- 
dier generals in the regular army. This I think injustice to General 
Warren, whom I recommended some time ago to General Grant for 
this position. 

1 Theodore Lyman, aide-de-camp to General Meade. 


Headquarters Army op the Potomac, March 4, 1865. 

To-day's Chronicle has part of the opinion of the court of inquiry, 
which I suppose will be published in the Philadelphia papers. It 
has made quite a sensation in the army, as it censures Burnside, 
Willcox, Ferrero and a Colonel Bliss. But few persons understand 
the allusion in the last sentence. 

Senator Harris told me that, after I was confirmed, he received a 
letter from Burnside, saying he was glad of it, and that I deserved 
it. I told Senator Harris I had no personal feeling against Burnside, 
and no desire to injure him. 

Deserters still continue to come in, there being seventy-five yes- 
terday, forty with arms. There are, however, no indications of an 
immediate evacuation either of Petersburg or Richmond, and the 
great fight may yet be fought out in this vicinity. There is nothing 
new in the camp, except you may tell George 1 the Third Infantry 
has reported, and is doing guard duty at headquarters in place of 
the "red legs." 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, March 8, 1865. 

Yesterday about 11 a. m., Mr. and Mrs. George Harding, with a 
party of ladies and gentlemen, arrived at these headquarters. Mr. 
Harding had telegraphed me from City Point he was coming. I 
took them to see the camps and works, and turned out some of the 
troops for them to see. Then brought them back here and gave them 
a lunch, with some of Lyman's champagne, and sent them back to 
City Point, quite delighted with their trip and all they saw. The 
day was a beautiful one and the roads in fine order. Mrs. Grant 
accompanied them and seemed as much pleased as the rest. I was 
glad to have it in my power to be civil to Mr. Harding, as some slight 
return for all he has done for me. 

You will have heard of Sheridan's success in the Valley, which 
I trust will be continued. We are now looking with interest for 
news from Sherman, and to know what force the enemy have been 
able to collect to confront him. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, March 12, 1865. 
Yesterday General Grant with a small party came out here and 
I had a review for them. In the evening General Grant was pre- 

1 Son of General Meade. 


sented at City Point with the gold medal voted him by Congress, 
and I went to City Point to the presentation. To-day Pendleton 
Watmough and young Parker (Cortlandt's nephew), both of whom 
command gunboats in the James, came to see me, and I took them 
around the lines. Your brother Willie came in whilst they were 
here, looking very well and in good spirits. 
We are quiet and nothing going on. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, March 13, 1865. 

I wish you would think favorably of my proposition to take a 
trip to the army. I think it would arouse you and distract your 

You do not do justice quite to the court of inquiry. The finding 
is a complete vindication of my part in the operation. I enclose a 
slip from the Army and Navy Journal, which gives in full the 
"Finding of the Court," the papers having only published that por- 
tion in which individual officers are censured by name. 1 On reading 
this you will see the court states that, had my orders been carried 
out, success was certain, and that failure was due to the neglect of 
my orders by Major General Burnside and others. It is true the 
court might have amplified this much more than it did, and not 
ignored altogether Burnside's extraordinary course, in the with- 
drawal of his command, which was the cause of our great loss. The 
Richmond papers say Hampton has whipped Kilpatrick, and we 
have a despatch from Sheridan reporting the occupation of Char- 
lottesville and destruction of the James River Canal. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, March 16, 1865. 
To-day Mr. Stanton and lady, with a select party, among whom 
was the French Minister, visited the army and went the rounds, wit- 
nessing among other things a review of Warren's Corps. Yesterday 
we had a party of Senators, with their families, so that we have had 
junketings almost every day for a week past. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, March 26, 1865. 

Your visit seems so like a dream I can hardly realize you have 
been here. 

The orderly who took Meta McCall's saddle down says he arrived 
just in time to put it on board, so I presume you started soon after 

1 For article mentioned, see Appendix T. 


12 M. To-day is a fine day, without wind, and I trust you will have 
a pleasant journey up the Potomac and get safe home. 

After I arrived here, the President and party came about 1 p. m. 
We reviewed Crawford's Division, and then rode to the front line and 
saw the firing on Wright's front, at the fort where you were, where 
a pretty sharp fight was going on. Indeed, Humphreys and Wright 
were fighting till eight o'clock, with very good results, taking over 
one thousand prisoners from the enemy, and inflicting heavy losses 
in killed and wounded. The day turned out to be a very successful 
one, we punishing the enemy severely, taking nearly three thousand 
prisoners and ten battle flags, besides the morale of frustrating and 
defeating his plans. 

Mrs. Lincoln spoke very handsomely of you and referred in feel- 
ing terms to our sad bereavement. The President also spoke of you, 
and expressed regret that your visit should have been so abruptly 
terminated. I suppose Mrs. Hopkinson and yourself will have great 
fun in recalling the incidents of your trip. Altogether, your expedi- 
tion was very successful, and I am very glad you came. 

I expect we shall have stirring times before long. The fighting 
yesterday proved the enemy has still some spirit left in him, and 
Lee, having once begun, is likely to try his hand again; and if he 
don't, I suppose we shall have to take the matter in hand. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, March 29, 1865. 

To-day we have made a movement to our left, and I am to-night 
in new headquarters, having abandoned the pleasant quarters you 
were in. 

The enemy attacked Griffin's Division about 5 P. M., but were 
handsomely repulsed. I regret, however, to announce the death of 
Dr. McEwen's son, who fell in this affair. I have telegraphed Jim 
Biddle to announce this event to the doctor, for whom I feel deeply. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, April 1, 1865. 
We have been moving and fighting the last three days, and I have 
not gone to bed till after one and two in the morning, and then up at 
five. We have had considerable fighting with the enemy out of his 
works, into which we have invariably driven him; but when there 
he is too strong for us, and the farther we go round to our left, we 
still find a formidable entrenched line. I think, however, we will 


this time reach the Southside Railroad, and if we do so, I should not 
be surprised if Lee evacuated his Petersburg lines and withdrew 
north of the Appomattox. Should he remain in them, he will have 
to stretch out so far that we may find a chance to pierce him. 

Your brother Willie was wounded yesterday, not dangerously, as 
I telegraphed you. He left this morning, and I sent George 1 to ac- 
company him to City Point, and if necessary to Philadelphia. Jim 
Biddle arrived yesterday. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, April 3, 1865. 

The telegraph will have conveyed to you, long before this reaches 
you, the joyful intelligence that Petersburg and Richmond have fallen, 
and that Lee, broken and dispirited, has retreated towards Lynch- 
burg and Danville. We have had three glorious days, the fighting 
not so severe as much we have done before, but in the results. We 
are now moving after Lee, and if we are successful in striking him 
another blow before he can rally his troops, I think the Confederacy 
will be at an end. 

George 1 is quite well, having left his uncle at City Point, where 
it was deemed advisable he should stop for awhile. Willie 2 was 
doing very well, and is not considered in any danger. 

Markoe Bache arrived this morning just in time to march into 
Petersburg with us. 

The strong demonstration we made on Lee's right caused him so 
to attenuate his lines that, notwithstanding their strength, we broke 
through his left, and poured in such a force that he had to fly to 
save himself. He was fortunate in keeping us out of the town till 
dark, which enabled him to get over the Appomattox what remained 
of his army. The last estimate of our prisoners amounted to fifteen 
thousand, and deserters and stragglers are being picked up by the 
thousands. Let us hope the war will soon be over. 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, April 7, 1865. 

Though late at night, I seize the time to send you a few lines. I 

don't know when I last heard or wrote to you, for besides the battles 

and marches of the last ten days, I have been nearly all the time 

quite under the weather with a severe bilious catarrh, taking an in- 

1 Son of General Meade. 2 Brother of Mrs. Meade. 


termittent form. Thanks to my powerful constitution, and the good 
care of my attending physician, together with the excitement of the 
scenes I have passed through, I have managed not to give up, but 
to be on hand each day. It is impossible for me to give you a de- 
tailed account of all our operations; suffice it to say, they have been 
brilliantly successful, beyond the most reasonable expectations. Rich- 
mond is ours, and Lee's army flying before us, shattered and demor- 
alized. Yesterday we took over ten thousand prisoners and five 
generals, among them Lieutenant General Ewell, and Custis Lee, 
Charley Turnbull's friend. I hear these officers virtually admit the 
contest over, and say they believe Lee is prepared to surrender, or 
at least to disband his army. 

We are now at Farmville, on the Appomattox, Lee having started 
for Danville; but we cut him off and forced him back towards Lynch- 
burg. I am happy to tell you that I have reliable intelligence from 
Confederate officers that neither Mr. Wise 1 nor his sons are dead. 

George is quite well, and has, with Lyman and Dr. McParlin, 
taken good care of me. Major Smyth joined us just as we were 
moving, and has had a grand opportunity to see everything. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, 

Appomattox Court House, April 10, 1865. 

The telegram will have announced to you the surrender of Lee 
and the Army of Northern Virginia. This I consider virtually ends 
the war. I have been to-day in the rebel camp; saw Lee, Longstreet, 
and many others, among them Mr. Wise. They were all affable 
and cordial, and uniformly said that, if any conciliatory policy was 
extended to the South, peace would be at once made. Mr. Wise 
looked old and feeble, said he was very sick, and had not a mouth- 
ful to eat. I secured him the privilege of an ambulance to go home 
in, and on my return to camp immediately despatched George 2 with 
an ambulance load of provisions to him. He enquired very affec- 
tionately after yourself, your mother and all the family. 

The officers and men are to be paroled and allowed to go to their 
homes, where they all say they mean to stay. Lee's army was re- 
duced to a force of less than ten thousand effective armed men. We 
had at least fifty thousand around him, so that nothing but madness 
would have justified further resistance. 

I have been quite sick, but I hope now, with a little rest and 

1 Henry A. Wise, brother-in-law of Mrs. Meade. 2 Son of General Meade. 


quiet, to get well again. I have had a malarious catarrh, which has 
given me a great deal of trouble. I have seen but few newspapers 
since this movement commenced, and I don't want to see any more, 
for they are full of falsehood and of undue and exaggerated praise of 
certain individuals who take pains to be on the right side of the 
reporters. Don't worry yourself about this; treat it with contempt. 
It cannot be remedied, and we should be resigned. I don't believe 
the truth ever will be known, and I have a great contempt for His- 
tory. Only let the war be finished, and I returned to you and the 
dear children, and I will be satisfied. 

Our casualties have been quite insignificant in comparison with 
the results. I don't believe in all the operations since we commenced 
on the 29th that we have lost as many men as we did on that unfor- 
tunate day, the 31st July, the day of the Petersburg mine. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, 

Burksville, Va., April 12, 1865. 

Your indignation at the exaggerated praise given to certain officers, 
and the ignoring of others, is quite natural. Still, I do not see how 
this evil is to be remedied, so long as our people and press are con- 
stituted as they are now. I have the consciousness that I have fully 
performed my duty, and have done my full share of the brilliant work 
just completed; but if the press is determined to ignore this, and the 
people are determined, after four years' experience of press lying, to 
believe what the newspapers say, I don't see there is anything for 
us but to submit and be resigned. Grant I do not consider so crimi- 
nal; it is partly ignorance and partly selfishness which prevents his 
being aware of the effects of his acts. With Sheridan it is not so. 
His determination to absorb the credit of everything done is so mani- 
fest as to have attracted the attention of the whole army, and the 
truth will in time be made known. His conduct towards me has 
been beneath contempt, and will most assuredly react against him 
in the minds of all just and fair-minded persons. 

Grant has left us on a visit to Richmond and Washington. My 
army is being assembled around this place, where I presume we will 
await events in North Carolina, and go to Danville, and farther South 
if it should be deemed necessary. The prevailing belief is that John- 
ston, on learning the destruction of Lee's army, will either surrender 
or disband his. It is hardly probable he will attempt to face Sherman 
and us. 


Headquarters Army op the Potomac, 

Burksville, Va., April 13, 1865. 

Yesterday, as soon as I reached here, where there is a telegraph, 
I telegraphed to City Point to enquire about Willie, 1 and received a 
reply from the medical officer in charge of the hospital that Willie 
had left the day before for Washington, doing well, the ball having 
been extracted. You can therefore imagine how shocked I was about 
midnight to get a despatch from Sandy Dallas, at Washington, stat- 
ing Willie had died on the passage. I presume he must have died 
of hemorrhage, or some of those secondary causes that suddenly occur 
in gun-shot wounds. What a dreadful shock for his poor wife and 
your mother, and how it will mar the exultation of our recent vic- 

Willie had established a high character for himself, and was doing 
so well that it seems hard he should be thus suddenly taken off. My 
God, what misery this dreadful war has produced, and how it comes 
home to the doors of almost every one! 

I have written you fully, urging on you patience and resignation. 
Popular fame is at best but ephemeral, and so long as one has a clear 
conscience that he has done his duty, he can look, or at least should 
look, with indifference on the clamor of the vulgar. 

I have received a very kind letter from Cortlandt Parker, and I 
enclose you one received to-day from Mr. Jay, of New York, so that 
I am not entirely without friends, though the few I have render them 
the more valuable. But, with or without friends, we ought to be 
happy so long as God spares our lives and blesses us with health, and 
our consciences are clear that we have done all we could. I trust we 
will soon have peace, and then I may be permitted to return to you 
and the children. This will compensate me for all I have gone 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, April 16, 1865. 

I received to-day your letter of the 12th, giving an account of (he 
Union League serenade, and of your having learned of the death of 
Willie. I am glad for your sake some notice has been taken of my 

As to Willie, I have written to you how shocked I was to hear of 
his death. This will, of course, be a terrible blow to his poor wife 
and the dear children. Your mother also, at her time of life, will 
necessarily feel it deeply. 

1 Brother of Mrs. Meade. 


Yesterday we were shocked by the announcement of the assassina- 
tion of the President, Secretary and Assistant Secretary of State. I 
cannot imagine the motives of the perpetrators of these foul deeds, 
or what they expect to gain. The whole affair is a mystery. Let 
us pray God to have mercy on our country and bring us through 
these trials. 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, April 18, 1865. 

Day before yesterday I sent Captain Emory to Richmond to see 
after his relatives. I have to-day a telegram from him, stating he 
had reached Richmond and found our friends all well. 

I have heard nothing from General Grant since he left here, and 
am in complete ignorance of what is going to be done with this army. 
I note what you say about public opinion in Philadelphia and New 
York, but if you saw the Herald of the 14th, you ought to be satisfied 
with what is there said of the feeling of the army towards me. 1 So 
long as the soldiers appreciate my services, I am indifferent to the 
opinion of politicians and newspaper editors. 

I see the Radicals are down on Grant for the terms he granted 
Lee. This I expected, but I trust they are in a miserable minority, 
and that the country will sustain him. 

I send you a copy of an order I published announcing the death 
of the President. It has been well received. I also enclose a letter 
from an anonymous friend, which was accompanied by an elegant 
pair of gauntlets. 

"Order" mentioned in last letter: 

Head-Quarters, Army of the Potomac, April 16, 1865. 
General Orders, No. 15. 

The Major General Commanding announces to the Army that 
official intelligence has been received of the death, by assassination, of 
the President of the United States. The President died at 7.22 on 
the morning of the 15th instant. 

By this Army, this announcement will be received with profound 
sorrow, and deep horror and indignation. The President, by the 
active interest he ever took in the welfare of this Army, and by his 
presence in frequent visits, especially during the recent operations, 
had particularly endeared himself to both officers and soldiers, all of 
whom regarded him as a generous friend. 

1 For article mentioned, see Appendix U. 


An honest man, a noble patriot, and sagacious statesman has fallen! 
No greater loss, at this particular moment, could have befallen our 
Country. Whilst we bow with submission to the unfathomable and 
inscrutable decrees of Divine Providence, let us earnestly pray that 
God, in His infinite mercy, will so order, that this terrible calamity 
shall not interfere with the prosperity and happiness of our beloved 
Country I 

Geo. G. Meade, 

Major General Commanding. 

To Mrs. George G. Meade: 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, April 20, 1865. 

I am glad you were so prompt in putting your house in mourning 
for the loss of the President, and I am also glad to see the press in 
Philadelphia take so much notice of you. 

Lyman, 1 much to my sorrow and regret, leaves me to-day, he 
considering the destruction of Lee's army as justifying his return 
home. Lyman is such a good fellow, and has been so intimately 
connected personally with me, that I feel his separation as the loss 
of an old and valued friend. 

I have had for the last two days as guest at my headquarters Mr. 
Charles J. Faulkner, late Minister to France. He is on his way to 
Richmond, to assist in bringing back Virginia to the Union. He 
acknowledges the Confederacy destroyed, is in favor of a convention 
of the people to rescind the ordinance of secession, abolish slavery, 
and ask to be received into the Union. This is in my judgment 
the best course to be pursued. Mr. Faulkner goes from here to Rich- 
mond. We also had yesterday the arrival of a Confederate officer 
from Danville, who reported the rumored surrender of Johnston, and 
the flight of Jeff. Davis to the region beyond the Mississippi, from 
whence I have no doubt he will go into Mexico, and thence to Europe. 

To Mr. Henry A. Cram, 2 New York: 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, 

Burksville, Va., April 22, 1865. 

I shall be most delighted to pay Katharine 3 and yourself a visit 
in Irving Place, but the prospect of such felicity does not seem very 

1 Theodore Lyman, aide-de-camp to General Meade. 

2 Brother-in-law of Mrs. Meade. 3 Wife of Mr. Cram. 


I am at present very much demoralized by a recent order which 
places me and my army under the command of General Halleck, 
who has been transferred from Washington to Richmond. In order 
to make General Halleck's removal from Washington acceptable to 
him, and appear necessary to the public, the services of myself and 
army are ignored, and this indignity put upon us; and this by Grant, 
who wrote the letter he did last winter, and who professes the warm- 
est friendship. All this entre nous. 

We of the army have done our work; the military power of the 
Rebellion is shattered. It remains for statesmen, if we have any, 
to bring the people of the South back to their allegiance and into 
the Union. How and when this will be accomplished, no one can 
tell. In the meantime, I presume our armies will have to occupy 
the Southern States. I am myself for conciliation, as the policy most 
likely to effect a speedy reunion. If we are going to punish treason, 
as perhaps strict justice would demand, we shall have to shed almost 
as much blood as has already been poured out in this terrible war. 
These are points, however, for others to adjust. 

To Mrs. George G. Meade: 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, 

Burksville, Va., April 23, 1865. 

An order came yesterday constituting Virginia into the Military 
Division of the James, assigning Major General Halleck to the com- 
mand, and putting myself and the Army of the Potomac under him. 

This is the most cruel and humiliating indignity that has been 
put upon me. (It is General Grant's work, and done by him with 
a full knowledge of my services and the consideration due to them, 
all of which have been ignored by him to suit his convenience). The 
order is a perfectly legitimate one, and to which, as a soldier, I have 
no right to make any objection, General Halleck being my senior in 
the regular army. I understand, however, the whole affair. After 
the assassination of the President, General Grant, who had previously 
determined to return here, made up his mind to remain in Washing- 
ton. He wished to find a place for Halleck. His first order assigned 
Halleck to the command of the Department of Virginia, in Ord's 
place, sending Ord to South Carolina. I presume Halleck demurred 
at this, as a position not equal to what he was entitled. At Halleck's 
remonstrance, and to render acceptable his removal from Washington, 


this order was rescinded, and the order issued making the Military- 
Division of the James, and putting both Ord and myself under him. 
I feel quite confident that, if I had been in Washington and my 
remonstrances could have been heard, I either would have frustrated 
this plan, or have been provided for in some way more consistent 
with my past services, but les absens out toujours tort was fully illus- 
trated in this instance, and there is nothing left me but the submission 
which a good soldier should always show to the legitimate orders of 
his superiors. I, however, now give up Grant. 

I am glad Lyman called to see you. He is an honest man and a 
true friend. He has a healthy mental organization, which induces 
him to look on all matters in the most favorable light. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, 

Burksville, Va., April 24, 1865. 

I received last evening your letter of the 20th, and was sorry to 
learn you had so narrowly escaped being mobbed, particularly after 
the credit you had gained for being the first to display mourning. It 
certainly was very culpable on the part of , after taking upon him- 
self the duty of decorating your house, to neglect it as he did. In such 
times of excitement some allowance must be made for vulgar and igno- 
rant people, and you must be over careful to avoid giving offense, 
whether justly or otherwise. 

Major Henry's letter is very handsome and very creditable to 
him; I return it herewith. Some one had sent me an extract from 
the proceedings of the City Councils, containing Mr. Gratz's letter to 
Councils, and the resolution accepting Mr. Gratz's gift. No letter 
came with this printed slip, but it posted me up in the great honor that 
had been conferred upon me. 

Some days ago the Ninth Corps was detached from this army and 
ordered to Washington — destination unknown (but surmised to be 
Missouri). Yesterday the Sixth Corps was ordered to Danville, to be 
there under Sheridan's orders; so that I am reduced to two corps — one 
the Fifth, guarding the railroad from here to Petersburg; the other, 
the Second, at this point. I presume one of them will soon be ordered 
away, probably the Second, to guard the railroad from here to 
Danville. Being reduced then to one corps, I trust the common 
sense of my superiors will see the absurdity of calling me the com- 
mander of an army, and that I shall be relieved and some other duty 
assigned me. 


Headquarters Army of the Potomac, 

Burksville, Va., April 27, 1865. 

I have received your letters of the 22d and 23d insts. Such exhi- 
bitations as are now being made of the body of Mr. Lincoln, are al- 
ways in my judgment in bad taste, and are never solemn or impres- 
sive. Still, as public ceremonies, I suppose they always will be, as 
they ever have been, necessary for the masses of people. 

I cannot understand Sherman's course. 1 I am very sorry for 
Sherman, no one can dispute that his services have been pre-eminent, 
and though he may have erred in judgment, and have mistaken the 
temper of the North, he is entitled to the considerations due to his 
past services, which should have shielded him from having his motives 
and loyalty impugned. I am curious to see whether Grant, when he 
joins him, will smother him as he did me. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, 

Burksville, Va., May 1, 1865. 

We are under marching orders for Alexandria, via Richmond, so 
the grand military division of the James, including the Army of the 
Potomac, has just existed about one week. I presume this army 
is ordered to Alexandria, as a preliminary measure to its disband- 

I shall leave here to-morrow for Richmond, and after spending a 
day or two there, putting the army en route for Alexandria, shall pro- 
ceed to that point, which I expect to reach before the middle of the 
month. I will write you from Richmond. 

George 2 and myself are both well, and greatly delighted with the 
idea of getting so near home as Washington, with the hope that, 
whatever turns up, I shall be able to spend a little time at home. 

Richmond, Va., May 3, 1865. 

I arrived here about 11 A. M. to-day, in advance of the army, to 
make arrangements for its passing through this city. It is to have a 
triumphal march through, and be received by all the troops now in 
the city. 

As soon after getting here as I could arrange business matters, I 
went to see Nene Wise, whom I found living with Mrs. Dr. Garnett. 

1 General W. T. Sherman's terms for the surrender of General Johnston were 
repudiated by the authorities at Washington. 

2 Son of General Meade. 


At Mrs. Garnett's I saw Mrs. Tully Wise, who was all last sum- 
mer in Columbia, South Carolina, and there met Mrs. Alfred Huger 
with Mariamne's 1 children. She says the children are all sweet, and 
that Mr. and Mrs. Huger are devoted to them, but that Mr. Huger 
has lost everything, and is now very poor, that he is old and infirm, 
and will not probably live long. She says Mr. Huger's house in 
Charleston was burned in the great fire of 1862, and everything in 
it destroyed, all the old pictures, and all the clothes, jewels and every- 
thing belonging to Mariamne's children. Mr. Huger at this time was 
Postmaster of Charleston, and used to come up and spend Sundays 
at Columbia. Mrs. Wise had not heard from them since Sherman's 

I have already written you that I expect to be in Washington by 
the 18th inst. It is generally believed that after the army is assem- 
bled in Washington it will be disbanded. In that case I shall undoubt- 
edly be allowed some relaxation before again being assigned to duty, 
and will then have an opportunity of being home for awhile. 

Richmond, Va., May 5, 1865. 

It was intended we should march through the city to-day, but the 
condition of the men after their long march from Burks ville, and the 
appearance of the weather, threatening a storm, the march was post- 
poned till to-morrow. I think it will take us from eight to ten days 
to march across. I hope to be in Alexandria by the fourteenth or 
fifteenth. I have not seen anyone here except the Wises and Tuckers. 
I have heard of a great many people here whom I formerly knew, but 
besides my occupation, I have been indisposed to visit any of them, 
because I know they all feel bitter, and many are really in distress, 
which I am powerless to relieve. 

Last evening Markoe Bache, who had been to see his friend Custis 
Lee, was told by him that his father, General Lee, would be glad to 
see me. I called there to-day and had a long talk with him. I en- 
deavored to convince him of the expediency and propriety of his tak- 
ing the oath of allegiance, not only on his own account, but for the 
great influence his example would have over others. General Lee said 
he had personally no objections, that he was willing, and intended to 
submit to the Constitution and laws of the United States, but that 
now he was a paroled prisoner of war, and he was unwilling to change 

1 Sister of Mrs. Meade and wife of Thomas B. Huger, C. S. A. 


his present status until he could form some idea of what the policy of 
the Government was going to be towards the people of the South. I 
argued with him that it was impossible for the Government to decide 
how they were to be treated, until it was satisfied they had returned 
to their allegiance, and that the only practicable way of showing this 
was by taking the oath. He admitted that the military power of the 
Confederacy had been destroyed, and that practically there was now 
no Confederate Government. The Government of the United States 
was the only one having power and authority, and those who designed 
living under it, should evince their determination by going through 
this necessary form. He also spoke a great deal of the status of the 
negro, which is really the great and formidable question of the day; 
but I did not devise any very practicable suggestions. I had a long 
and interesting talk, and left him, really sad to think of his position, 
his necessities, and the difficulties which surround him. 

Lyman has sent me a Boston paper, with a very excellent article 
written by himself, which I will send you. 

Washington, D. C, May 12, 1865. 

I reached here last evening in time to pitch camp on the banks of 
the Potomac. To-day I have been in town at the Department, and 
waiting to see General Grant, who has been all day before the Com- 
mittee on the Conduct of the War. I have not yet seen him, so am 
not able to give you any news. From what I gather, I infer the armies 
are to be disbanded at once. The review or parade has been talked 
about, but there appears to be nothing settled, and I rather think it 
will fall through. I have received your letters up to the one dated the 

We had a delightful march from Richmond; some rain towards the 
end of the journey, which impeded our progress. 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, May 18, 1865. 
I depended on the boys to tell you all the news. You will see by 
the papers that the great review is to come off next Tuesday. On that 
day, the Army of the Potomac, consisting of the cavalry, Ninth, Fifth 
and Second Corps, will, under my command, march through Washing- 
ton and be reviewed by the President. To-day's paper contains an 
announcement of the fact, in a telegram from Mr. Stanton to General 
Dix, which it is expected will bring the whole North to Washington. 


I have heard nothing further about the proposed new duties, or 
about going to West Point. The order reducing the armies is pub- 
lished, and I suppose the reduction will take place immediately after 
the review, so that it will not be long before the question is settled. 





A few days after the date of the preceding letter General Meade 
was joined in camp by his whole family, who had come to be present 
in Washington at the Grand Review, on May 23d, of the Army of 
the Potomac, preceding the disbandment of the troops. 

The principal reviewing stand was erected in front of the White 
House and occupied by the President, the members of the Cabinet, 
and other distinguished persons. At nine o'clock the head of the 
column, led by General Meade, who commanded in person, accom- 
panied by his Staff, started from the Capitol, followed by the Cavalry 
Corps, Major-General Merritt, commanding; the Provost-Marshal- 
General's Brigade, Brevet Brigadier-General Macey, commanding; 
the Engineer Brigade, Brigadier-General Benham, commanding; the 
Ninth Army Corps, Major-General Parke, commanding (to this last 
corps was attached a division of the Nineteenth Corps, commanded 
by Brigadier-General Dwight) ; the Fifth Army Corps, Brevet Major- 
General Griffin, commanding; and the Second Army Corps, Major- 
General Humphreys, commanding; and marched through Pennsyl- 
vania Avenue, which was thronged with people gathered from all 
parts of the country to witness the spectacle of veterans returning 
from the war. 

The weather proved propitious, and the spectacle of sixty-five 
thousand men marching, who constituted that grand old army with 
whose deeds they had been so long familiar, awakened an enthusiasm 
among the people, which found vent in the tumultuous cheering of 
an ovation that knew no bounds. The troops, having marched 
through the avenue, then returned to their encampment on the op- 
posite side of the Potomac. 

On the following day the Armies of Georgia and Tennessee, under 



command of General Sherman, were reviewed in the same manner 
and had a similar reception. 

For some time after this event General Meade was busily engaged 
in issuing the necessary orders for the disbandment of the troops of 
his army. In consequence he was still obliged to remain in the field, 
making only one short visit to Philadelphia, where, on June 10th, he 
participated in the reception and parade of the returned Philadelphia 

On June 28th, he issued the following farewell address to the army: 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, June 28, 1865. 
Soldiers : 

This day, two years, I assumed command of you, under the order 
of the President of the United States. To-day, by virtue of the same 
authority, this army ceasing to exist, I have to announce my transfer 
to other duties, and my separation from you. 

It is unnecessary to enumerate here all that has occurred in these 
two eventful years, from the grand and decisive Battle of Gettysburg, 
the turning point of the war, to the surrender of the Army of Northern 
Virginia at Appomattox Court House. Suffice it to say that his- 
tory will do you justice, a grateful country will honor the living, cher- 
ish and support the disabled, and sincerely mourn the dead. 

In parting from you, your commanding general will ever bear in 
memory your noble devotion to your country, your patience and 
cheerfulness under all the privations and sacrifices you have been 
called upon to endure. 

Soldiers! having accomplished the work set before us, having 
vindicated the honor and integrity of our Government and flag, let 
us return thanks to Almighty God for His blessing in granting us 
victory and peace; and let us sincerely pray for strength and light 
to discharge our duties as citizens, as we have endeavored to dis- 
charge them as soldiers. 

Geo. G. Meade, 

Major General, U. S. A. 

Thus closed the career of the grandest army that this continent 
has ever seen. When its history shall have been one day faithfully 
and well written it will be seen that, with all due justice to the other 
heroic armies of the North, its record stands pre-eminent as the most 
heroic of them all. It was engaged in more difficult campaigns, fought 


more hard-contested battles, and suffered more severely than any 
other army. If, with the double task of guarding the capital of the 
nation, and of confronting the flower of the Southern armies, it was 
not always successful, it never failed to respond to the call of duty, 
and cheerfully to bear the dangers, hardships, and fatigues incidental 
to active campaigning even under the most trying circumstances of 

It was in existence within two months of four years. General 
Meade was continuously with it from within a few days of its organi- 
zation to its final disbandment. He was absent from it, during those 
four years, but one hundred and nine days, forty-two of which he was 
recovering from a wound. He was present in every campaign of the 
army, and in all its engagements, save three. He was its commander 
for more than half the term of its existence, and as such fought and 
gained in the greatest battle of the war its most important and signal 

Upon the disbandment of the large armies and the assignment of 
the general officers to new fields of duty, General Meade was given the 
command of the Military Division of the Atlantic, headquarters at 
Philadelphia. No one in all those great armies hailed the return of 
peace more sincerely than he. Rejoicing at the successful issue of 
the war, and at his return from the weighty care inseparable from the 
command of a large army, he fully appreciated the opportunity of 
once more returning to his family, separation from which had been 
one of his severest trials. 

Upon his return to Philadelphia he was received with the greatest 
distinction. Public and private receptions and entertainments were 
given in his honor, and wherever he went on tours to inspect his com- 
mand, he was warmly greeted and similar honors were paid to him 
by a grateful people. At the invitation of citizens of Boston he visited 
that city in July, and was present at the laying of the corner-stone of 
Memorial Hall, at Harvard College, erected in memory of her gradu- 
ates who had fallen in the war. Among other distinguished marks of 
appreciation shown him at this time was the conferring upon him at 
the commencement exercises of the college, through its president, 
Dr. Hill, the honorary degree of LL.D. 

In obedience to instructions from the War Department, General 
Meade made in August of this year an extended tour of inspection 
through Virginia and North and South Carolina, which States then 
formed part of his command. 


As part of his duty he examined carefully into the working of both 
the civil and military governments. His report on the subject is a 
clear and comprehensive statement of the condition of affairs as he 
found them, coupled with his views and suggestions on many of the 
complicated questions which had arisen in the Southern States, owing 
to the changed circumstances immediately following the war. He 
personally conferred with the provisional governors of those States, 
and in his report refers to the harmonious action then existing be- 
tween the civil and military authorities. After expressing his approval 
of the discretion of the three department commanders, Generals Gil- 
more, Ruger, and Terry, he concluded as follows : " I have to report 
the condition of affairs as on the whole satisfactory. The people are 
slowly recovering from the shock of war. Everywhere the most ear- 
nest professions of submission to the result of the war were made, and 
I am disposed to give credit to their assertions within the limits of 
what may be presumed natural. But it must be remembered that it 
is not natural to expect a sudden revolution in the ideas in which a 
people have been always educated. The great change in the labor 
question will require time for both races to realize and conform to, 
and until this period arrives, it will undoubtedly be necessary to 
retain such military control as will compel mutual justice from both 
parties. This control should be exercised with judgment and dis- 
cretion, and every effort made to convince both races that it is exer- 
cised only for their mutual benefit. Instructions were given to this 
effect to Department Commanders, and I am satisfied there need be 
no apprehension of any improper interference of the military with the 
civil authorities." 

In March, 1866, General Meade was selected as one of a board 
to make recommendations for brevets to the grade of general officers 
in the regular army, the other members of the board being Major- 
Generals W. T. Sherman and George H. Thomas. The board met 
at St. Louis, Missouri, and remained in session for about two weeks, 
during which time General Meade's stay in the city was made as 
agreeable as possible. He met many old friends who received him 
most cordially, and many entertainments were given to these three 
distinguished guests. 

It was while absent on this duty that General Meade received 
intimation of the projected invasion of Canada by the Fenians, an 
organization just then looming into prominence and composed prin- 
cipally of old soldiers of both North and South. The board having 


adjourned and he returned to Philadelphia, he found the threats of 
the Fenians becoming more and more serious, and the report went that 
they were assembling at various points on the Canadian frontier, 
within the limits of his command. In consequence, under instructions 
from Lieutenant-General Grant, orders were issued to the commanding 
officers of that district, " to use all vigilance to prevent armed or hos- 
tile forces or organizations from leaving the United States to enter 
British Provinces." Receiving information that quite a large force 
of Fenians had rendezvoused at Eastport, Maine, the general pro- 
ceeded early in April to the place, picking up on his way one or two 
companies of artillery to reinforce the small garrison at Fort Sulli- 
van, and on his arrival found collected about three hundred Fenians 
and the place filled with all sorts of rumors as to their intentions. 
After a careful disposition of his small force, and the adoption of 
every other precaution to prevent any hostile demonstration, he at 
once placed himself in communication with the leaders of the Fenian 
expedition and gave them clearly to understand that any breach by 
them of the neutrality laws would be instantly followed by the arrest 
of every one of them. Owing to these prompt and energetic meas- 
ures, it became evident to the "Liberators of Ireland," as they styled 
themselves, that any hostile demonstration on their part would be 
defeated, and in a short time their forces gradually melted away and 
disappeared from that part of the country. 

While on this tour of duty General Meade visited Calais, Maine. 
Here, as well as at Eastport, he had reason to be gratified at the 
honorable reception accorded him by the citizens. The general here 
availed himself of being in the vicinity to pay his respects to his friend, 
Major-General Sir Hastings Doyle, of the British Army, who was in 
command of the lower provinces of Canada, and in that capacity 
watching the movements of the proposed invaders. 

During the general's stay in Maine he caught a severe cold and 
was threatened with pneumonia, leading to his detention in East- 
port for some weeks, to be confined to his bed. Thanks, however, to 
the medical skill of Assistant Surgeon Milhau, of his staff, and the 
considerate attention of many of the citizens, the attack was warded 
off, and he returned safely to his home in Philadelphia. 

In June of the same year, whilst at West Point, New York, where 
he had gone to command the escort at the funeral of Lieutenant- 
General Scott, General Meade received notice from both State and 
War Departments that the Fenians were again collecting on the 


Niagara frontier, and was instructed to take measures to prevent the 
carrying out of their purposed invasion of Canada. 

This second threatened invasion of the soil of a neighboring and 
friendly power was a much more serious affair than the one at East- 
port had been, and called for the exercise of the utmost judgment 
so to conduct matters that, while preventing any breach of the 
neutrality laws, all risk of collision of our own forces with the Fenians 
should, if possible, be avoided. The government at Washington was 
solicitous that these troubles should be speedily adjusted so as to re- 
move any cause of difference between the United States and Great 
Britain. At the same time that it was desirable this should be accom- 
plished, the importance of not losing sight of the fact that the Fenians 
included a large number of voters from the United States, of a class 
which represented an important factor in the petty politics of the 
country, was so evident to the authorities at Washington that they 
were*content to leave in the hands of a man who was no aspirant for 
political preferment the delicate task of dealing with them, and to 
commit the whole management and responsibility of the affair to his 

General Meade at once proceeded to Buffalo, where he found that 
a body of the invaders had crossed to the Canadian shore, had had a 
skirmish with the Canadian militia, and in endeavoring to recross had 
been captured by the United States steamer Michigan, their arms 
taken from them, and they held subject to the orders of the civil 
authorities. After taking due precautions to prevent any recurrence 
of this kind, he hastened to Ogdensburg, New York, at which place, 
and at St. Albans, Vermont, it was reported that the Fenians had col- 
lected in large force and that their chief demonstration was to be 

The great extent of frontier to be guarded, in view of the small 
means at his disposal, rendered it impossible for General Meade to 
do more than make a show of force. Under the circumstances, he 
recommended the government to proclaim martial law, and to em- 
power him to call for troops upon the States in which the disturbances 
were threatened. These suggestions were not fully complied with by 
the government, but finally the President issued a proclamation, 
warning all good citizens against taking part in this unlawful proceed- 
ing of invasion, and authorizing General Meade to employ the land 
and naval forces of the United States, and also the militia, to frustrate 
the intention of the expeditions. This was exactly what General 
Meade was already doing. 


The general had found, on his arrival at Ogdensburg, that the 
principal force of the Fenians was collecting at Malone, New York, 
and at St. Albans, Vermont. There were already several thousand 
at those places, constantly receiving accessions, regularly organized 
and under command of general officers of the so-called "Army of 
Ireland." To elude observation and avoid being arrested on their 
way, they had proceeded to those points in squads of a hundred at a 
time, without arms or ammunition, which were to be forwarded to 
them afterwards. The general, learning that these arms were on 
their way and had reached Watertown, New York, and other places, 
gave orders and despatched emissaries to have them seized, and several 
car-loads were in this way secured. At the same time the prominent 
Fenian officers were arrested, and under the authority of the Presi- 
dent's proclamation, the railroad companies were forbidden to trans- 
port any more men, arms, or ammunition. 

Thus deprived of leaders and arms, the remainder of the invaders 
became helpless and were soon ready to submit. General Meade 
thereupon had several interviews with the leaders and represented to 
them the utter folly of their attempting to carry out plans opposed 
by the power of the United States. He counselled them to return 
quietly to their homes and induce those under them to do the same. 
At length, after much trouble and vexatious delay, partially caused 
by the introduction of a resolution in Congress for the repeal of the 
neutrality laws, the Fenians agreed to disperse. 

The difficulty now arose as to how they were to get away; the 
majority of them were entirely without means and had for some 
time been living on the people of the surrounding country. The gen- 
eral suggested to the War Department, as the speediest method of 
getting them away, that it furnish them transportation to their homes. 
This expedient being adopted, he issued a proclamation calling on 
them to disperse, and offering to send them home. The official re- 
turns show that over seven thousand men were then sent away, and 
by June 15 the general reported to the department that the Fenians 
had dispersed, and that the thousand miles of frontier under his com- 
mand was perfectly quiet. 

This affair had been admirably conducted. Its entire manage- 
ment had been left in the hands of General Meade, and his action had 
in every instance been approved by the government, which was well 
satisfied to be rid of what promised at one time to be a serious com- 
plication between the United States and Great Britain, and likely, 
without adroit management, to be politically injurious to those who 


might appear prominently as instrumental in effecting a peaceable 
solution of the difficulty. In one of his despatches from Washington, 
the secretary of war, Hon. Edwin M. Stanton, thus wrote to General 
Meade: "Your calm, patient and firm method of dealing with this 
matter, so as to avoid any possible collision or bloodshed, renders it 
needless to make any suggestions on the subject beyond approval of 
your actions." The British authorities, although unable to make any 
formal recognition of its obligation to General Meade's wise course, 
nevertheless caused to be unofficially communicated to him an ex- 
pression of its appreciation of his trying position and difficult task, 
in which his action, at the same time conciliatory and determined, had 
averted the possibility of war between the two countries. 

On the fourth of July, 1866, on the occasion of the reception in 
Philadelphia of the State flags belonging to Pennsylvania regiments, 
General Meade, by request, made in Independence Hall the presenta- 
tion address when these battle-worn colors were returned to the hands 
of Governor Curtin. Major-General Hancock was commanding 
officer of the day, and in the procession, commanding divisions, were 
many distinguished Pennsylvania generals of volunteers, General 
Robert Patterson, D. McM. Gregg, J. R. Brooke, S. W. Crawford, 
and others. 

During the Congress the reconstruction acts for the govern- 
ment of the Southern States were passed and those States divided 
into military districts. In this way Virginia and North and South 
Carolina were, in August, 1866, taken from the Military Division 
of the Atlantic, and that division discontinued. General Meade was 
then assigned to the Department of the East, his head-quarters re- 
maining in Philadelphia. During the same session of Congress the 
rank of general was created, and Lieutenant-General Grant promoted 
to fill the position, and Major-General Sherman to fill that of lieu- 
tenant-general; these promotions leaving General Meade the second 
major-general in seniority in the army, General Halleck being the 
only major-general who ranked him. 

In August, 1866, under special orders from Mr. Stanton, secre- 
tary of war, General Meade received President Johnson in Philadel- 
phia with military honors, and escorted him in his passage through 
the city on his way to Chicago to lay the corner-stone of the Douglas 
monument. At the special request of President Johnson he joined 
the party, which, however, on account of the pressure of public duties 
in Philadelphia, he was able to accompany only as far as West Point, 


rejoining it later at Chicago, and assisting at the ceremonies in that 

The general returned to Philadelphia by way of Canada, stopping 
at one or two points, where he was received with the greatest distinc- 
tion by the military authorities. After being handsomely entertained 
by the garrison at Kingston, one of Her British Majesty's gun-boats 
was placed at his disposal, and, accompanied by a number of the 
officers stationed at that place, he was escorted down the St. Lawrence 
River to the head of the rapids. On his arrival in Montreal he was 
waited upon by the commander-in-chief of the British forces, every 
attention was shown him, the various regiments stationed there 
giving entertainments and a review of the regular troops being held 
in his honor. The authorities, both civil and military, and the citizens 
generally, took every opportunity to show their appreciation of his 
services in the recent Fenian raids, and their recognition of his rank 
and record in his own army. 

In June, 1867, General Meade was appointed by the Court of 
Common Pleas for the City and District of Philadelphia one of the 
commissioners of Fairmount Park, and was elected by that body to 
fill the position of vice-president of the Commission. He early took 
the deepest interest in the embellishment of the park, bringing to bear 
upon this object all his energy and well-known engineering skill, so 
that much of its excellent plan and present beauty are owing to his 
individual efforts. 

While inspecting the forts within his command, along the northern 
frontier, in the autumn of this year (1867), General Meade was 
induced again to visit Canada. Going to Montreal and Quebec, he 
was received with the same hospitality that had attended his former 
visit. At Quebec he was the guest at a state dinner of the governor- 
general, Lord Monk, and was otherwise handsomely entertained by 
the officers of the army in garrison there. Both on this visit and 
the preceding one he carefully examined into the system of military 
prisons as established by the British Government, in which our own 
government was at that time entirely deficient. His observations and 
suggestions on this subject were embodied in several communications 
to the War Department, and attention was repeatedly called in his 
annual reports to the importance of some such system as the British 
being adopted for the army of the United States. 

Among the many rumors during the autumn of 1867 as to changes 
contemplated by President Andrew Johnson in the commanders of 


certain of the military districts into which the Southern States had 
been divided by the reconstruction acts of Congress, was one that 
General Meade had been favorably mentioned by him for one of the 
commands. This was a sphere of action to which, in the existing con- 
dition of political affairs, the general was peculiarly averse, and which 
nothing but the highest sense of duty, in obedience to orders, could 
have induced him to occupy. His views and feelings in regard to the 
matter are so fully set forth in the answer which he made to a letter 
from a Southern friend, which, after referring complimentarily to his 
past services, expressed the hope that he would be selected for one 
of the commands, that they will be most fitly conveyed in the 
words of his own in reply. He wrote: "I thank you most sincerely 
for the kind and complimentary terms in which you speak of my ser- 
vices. My conscience tells me that, whilst I never swerved from what 
I considered my duty, during the trying times of the war, I never felt 
called on in the discharge of my duty to entertain or exhibit feelings 
of hatred against those who, whilst I knew they were acting wrongly, 
and were without justification, yet I acknowledged were acting upon 
what they considered their rights. And I am very sorry to see, now 
that the conflict of arms is over, that political passion is again assum- 
ing the ascendency, and that, blinded by this malign influence, both 
sides are plunging into the same evil courses which originated the war, 
and which I had hoped the expenditure of blood and treasure which 
the war cost would have taught both sides to avoid. However, these 
are things that neither you nor I can control, however much we may 
deplore. Whilst it would be a gratification to me to aid in any way 
to restore the wounds of my bleeding country, the problem is one sur- 
rounded by so many difficulties, and blended so intimately with the 
questions, not only of politics, but of party, that I have esteemed my- 
self very fortunate in being hitherto permitted to remain where I am. 
Besides, considerations of a domestic character render my present 
command much more desirable than any other. 

" I sincerely trust the future will be more bright than present ap- 
pearances would indicate. We have a magnificent country, more 
blessed by Providence than any other on the face of the earth, and if 
we are not the happiest of people it is our own fault." 

The general's preference for remaining where he was stationed, 
in Philadelphia, was known in Washington, but it was understood 
that his assignment, which was made by General Orders of the 28th of 
December, 1867, to the command of the Third Military District, was 


brought about through the President's personal selection of him for 
this frontier. It was a wise selection, but not, in all probability, for 
the reasons which had induced the President to make it. 

On the 2d of January the general left Philadelphia to assume 
command of the Third Military District, composed of the States of 
Georgia, Alabama, and Florida, head-quarters at Atlanta, Georgia; 
and staying on his way only a few hours in Washington, solely for 
the purpose of seeing General Grant, he arrived in Atlanta on the 
5th of January. 

Under the general's predecessor in command of the Third Military 
District, Brevet Major-General John Pope, the reconstruction laws 
had been in force for nearly a year, and great dissatisfaction existed on 
the part of those opposed to their proper construction. The substitu- 
tion of General Meade for him was looked upon with evident satisfac- 
tion by this class of the community, which had been led to believe that 
he was in sympathy with the peculiar views of President Johnson. 
In this they were doomed to disappointment. The province of a 
general in command of the district did not embrace the question of the 
right or wrong, the constitutionality or unconstitutionality, of the re- 
construction acts of Congress. His duty was simply to execute those 
laws with even-handed justice. General Meade at once addressed 
himself to the task before him, and succeeded in it, as the result of his 
administration will bear testimony. The limitations of this work do 
not admit of a detailed account of his services during his command in 
the South. It is only necessary to make, in this connection, the fol- 
lowing brief reference to the work accomplished, as gathered from his 
annual report for 1868, which cannot fail to be interesting to those 
desirous of knowing his connection with the historical events of the 

On the general assuming command of the district, the political 
situation then existing was, that in Georgia a convention, elected 
under the reconstruction acts of Congress, was in session, but em- 
barrassed for want of funds; that in Alabama a convention had met, 
founded a constitution, nominated State officers, and adjourned; 
that in Florida an election had been held for members of a conven- 
tion which was to meet on the 20th of January. 

In order to relieve the Georgia convention from its financial em- 
barrassment the general felt constrained to depose the provisional 
governor of the State, who held the reconstruction acts to be uncon- 
stitutional, and had refused to acknowledge the authority of the 


district commander; and subsequently, for the same reasons, to 
depose the State treasurer and the comptroller. He assigned to these 
positions officers of the army, his reasons for this course being, as 
thus expressed in his report: "I consider it judicious policy to avail 
myself of the authority granted in the reconstruction laws, to detail 
officers of the army to perform these duties, as in this way I gave 
evidence to the people of the State and of the country that my only 
object in making the removals was the execution of the law, and that 
the same was free from any personal or political bias." 

When the officers appointed entered upon their duties they found 
that all the important books and the records with the State seal had 
been removed, and that the treasury was without funds. In this 
condition of affairs they went to work, and with the moneys derived 
from the net income of the Western and Atlantic Railroad, belonging 
to the State, and from taxes due and uncollected for 1867 met all 
demands for the charitable institutions, the civil-list appropriations, 
and the constitutional convention; and in the meantime the interest 
on the State debt was met by payment from funds in New York 
belonging to the State of Georgia. When relieved from their duties, 
which naturally terminated by the appointment of officers elected 
under the new constitution of the State, they had the gratification of 
turning over a handsome balance remaining in the treasury, thus 
ending an administration of affairs which had proved not only credit- 
able to themselves, but most satisfactory to the people of all parties 
of the State. 

The convention, after being in session for several months, adopted 
a new constitution, which, with nominations for State officers, was 
submitted to the people in April, and was ratified by a large majority 
of the registered voters, all parties attending the polls. This consti- 
tution was, with some modifications, accepted by Congress, and the 
State formally admitted to representation in July, 1868. 

In Alabama a constitution had been framed before the arrival 
of General Meade, and the vote as to its ratification or rejection and 
the election for officers of the State took place after his arrival, in 
February. This constitution was fairly rejected by the people, 
chiefly on account of the fact that, as framed, it was not agreeable to 
a large number of the friends of reconstruction, but partly on account 
of the circumstance that the constitutional convention had made to 
all State offices nominations which were not acceptable to them. 
General Meade had advised against holding the election for State 


officers at the same time that the new constitution was being voted 
upon. After the rejection of the new constitution, he was in favor, 
and so reported, of the reassembling of the convention to revise the 
constitution. As events turned out, however, Congress accepted the 
new constitution as framed and admitted the State to the Union. 

In Florida the election of members for the constitutional conven- 
tion had taken place while General Meade's predecessor was in com- 
mand of the district, and under advice given by him at that time; 
the convention met in January. 

After the arrival of General Meade, at the beginning of January, 
and prior to the assembling of the convention, communications from 
the provisional governor and many other prominent citizens of the 
State were forwarded to him by the President, making the gravest 
charges against the managers of the election for delegates to the 
convention, even that of fraudulent execution of districting and regis- 
tration, and urging him to postpone the assembling of the convention 
and examine into these charges. But General Meade, having care- 
fully examined into the law, found no remedy short of congressional 
action, even if the charges should be proved, and he decided not to 
interfere with the meeting of the convention. He, however, ordered 
a board of officers to investigate the charges, and notified the me- 
morialists of his action; and he pledged himself to place before Con- 
gress all the testimony they might produce before the board. This 
board, after remaining in session for some weeks, and calling without 
avail on the memorialists for their evidence, closed its session with- 
out having any charge proved of all those made. 

Scarcely had the convention met when endless dissensions and 
bickerings ensued, terminating in a split, each side claiming to be the 
legitimate convention. At this point of time General Meade saw his 
way clear to interfering, with propriety, by proposing certain com- 
promise measures, which being accepted, the two sides coalesced and 
reorganized the convention, the constitution framed by it being rati- 
fied by the people and the State admitted by Congress. 

Thus the three States composing the Third Military District 
having been admitted to representation in Congress, General Meade 
at once issued orders declaring the cessation of all intervention in 
civil affairs by the military power. "The inauguration of civil gov- 
ernment/ ' he remarks in his report, "was to me, personally, a source 
of great relief, charged as I had been with almost unlimited powers." 

This duty of the civil rehabilitation of States through military 


agency, which, however necessary, was naturally repugnant to Gen- 
eral Meade, yet found in him one admirably fitted in mind and char- 
acter for the duties which devolved upon him. Upon the numerous 
intricate and delicate questions that came before him he brought to 
bear a quick perception and clear insight which enabled him in a 
wonderfully short space of time to reach conclusions that would bear 
the test of the soundest legal judgment. Added to this qualification 
was his unflagging energy and almost unlimited capacity for work, 
emanating from and exemplifying only a small portion of which are 
his orders, reports, and communications, all models of clearness and 
all breathing the most impartial and liberal spirit. 

The power of disapproving the acts of the district commanders 
had by the reconstruction laws been vested in the general-in-chief, 
to whom General Meade submitted his views and proposed course of 
action before carrying it into effect in any important case, and the 
instances are rare where his judgment was overruled. 

In August the Second and Third Military Districts were abolished 
and consolidated into the Department of the South, to the command of 
which General Meade was assigned. This added the States of North 
and South Carolina to his command and greatly increased his duties. 

Soon after taking command of this department, he was constantly 
urged by the governors of the various States to use troops to sustain 
the civil governments. But he invariably refused compliance with 
these solicitations, holding that the State governors must endeavor to 
stand by themselves, and that it was his duty not to interfere until 
after it had become evident that the State had exhausted all its efforts 
to preserve the peace between rival factions, or in its own protection, 
and only then when it had called on him in the manner prescribed 
by law. 

His report, after expressing thanks for the prompt and efficient 
co-operations always received from the various subordinate district 
commanders, the staff, and the officers and men of the several com- 
mands, concludes as follows: "No army in previous history was 
ever called on to discharge such delicate and responsible duties, in- 
volving powers that, if abused, might have led to the most serious con- 
sequences; and yet the transition from military to civil power was so 
imperceptible as to have passed unnoticed but for the special means, 
by way of proclamations, orders, etc., to make it public. I do not 
mean to deny but that there were individual exceptions, and that in 
some cases bad judgment, political bias, or personal feelings, may have 


influenced the course of some individual officer or soldier — this is no 
more than is to be expected from our nature — but I do maintain 
that, taking the large force, extending over such an extent of territory 
and vested with supreme power, that instead of the few instances 
where, perhaps, criticism might be appropriate, the wonder was — and 
it is to be said to the credit of the army — that so little abuse was 
made of a power by those who might very readily be supposed difficult 
to restrain and control/ ' 

General Meade, being obliged in the performance of his duties to 
make extended journeys to different parts of his command, inci- 
dentally endeavored through personal intercourse to cultivate friendly 
relations with the people. At his headquarters at Atlanta he enter- 
tained as far as his means would allow, seeking to promote pleasant 
social relations with the citizens. Becoming greatly interested in the 
Protestant Episcopal Church in that city, which he regularly at- 
tended, and finding it a small frame building, very much out of repair, 
and not by any means furnished as was desirable, the poverty caused 
by the war having rendered it impossible for the congregation to 
repair or furnish it properly, he, through his own personal solicitation 
and the active interest of his wife among their friends at the North, 
raised a sum of money sufficient not only to defray the expense of 
the desired repairs, but to purchase a new organ for the church. By 
those benefited this act was held in grateful recognition, and to him 
it was a source of the deepest satisfaction, when he came to leave those 
parts, to see the church established on a prosperous footing. 

During the general's residence in Atlanta, he made many warm 
friends. That he did not make more was owing on his part not to any 
unfriendly feelings or to remitting any proper efforts, but to the un- 
happy condition of the country. His course from first to last of his 
civil administration, although marked by the absence of all avoidable 
interference, met with the most violent abuse, his motives were im- 
pugned and his character bitterly assailed. His was necessarily the 
fate of all who hold in troublous times the scales with even-handed 
justice. Sharing the animosities of neither side they must necessarily 
offend both. From the first he consistently ignored all partisan con- 
siderations and faithfully executed the law, without regard to per- 
sonal or political preferences. As the inevitable consequence he en- 
countered the enmity of both sides without receiving any sympathy 
from either. Placed in position by a President who probably thought 
that in him he had found a representative of his own policy toward 


the South, backed by a Congress whose policy leaned to the other 
extreme, he found his duty performed simply in the execution of the 
law, and in the display of temperate and conciliatory conduct to both 
sides and to all shades of party alike. Time will bring to all fair- 
minded citizens of those States included in his command some appre- 
ciation of the immense difficulties that surrounded him, and the 
embarrassing positions in which he was often placed. They will come 
perhaps to recognize the purity of motives that had never before been 
impugned, the soundness of judgment, the liberal and friendly policy, 
and the conscientious discharge of duty, displayed by the general in 
his administration of both district and department. 

During General Meade's service in the Southern States, General 
Grant had been nominated by the Republican party for the office of 
President of the United States, and in November, 1868, he was 

General Grant's occupation of the presidential chair, which was 
regarded as a foregone conclusion, would necessarily vacate his posi- 
tion as general of the army, thus causing vacancies in the higher 
grades. The approaching change, therefore, naturally excited much 
speculation in and out of the army, as to who would be promoted 
to fill the positions. It seemed to be well understood that General 
Grant would not resign his position in the army, but that it would 
lapse when he assumed the duties of chief magistrate of the nation, 
and thus also the opportunity and power to make these promotions 
would be in his hands. It was on all sides conceded that Lieutenant- 
General Sherman, the next in rank to General Grant, had indispu- 
table right as well as likelihood of succeeding to the generalcy. The 
position of lieutenant-general then becoming vacant, it was believed 
by General Meade and his friends that, providing General Halleck, 
the senior major-general, should not be selected, General Meade, the 
next in rank, was in justice entitled to the commission. 

As, however, the time of General Grant's inauguration as Presi- 
dent approached, it was rumored that he intended to disregard the 
claims of General Meade to the position and to promote one more 
congenial to him personally. This was intimated to General Meade, 
and he was advised to take action in the premises. But he was now, 
as he had been on the occasion of a former promotion, without polit- 
ically influential friends, and he was also loath to credit that the ser- 
vices, hitherto acknowledged 1 by General Grant, would now be ignored 
by him. He had served his country faithfully as an officer of the 


army for more than twenty-seven years; had by his talents and en- 
ergy steadily risen from the lowest commissioned grade to within two 
of the highest; and had gained his various promotions as a general 
officer, both in the volunteer and regular army, by his universally 
acknowledged skill and indomitable bravery on the field of battle. 
He had, at the most critical period of the war, while commanding the 
largest independent army in the service of the government, wrested 
its greatest victory from the ablest commander of the South. He had 
afterward commanded that same army under the very eye of General 
Grant, when, as the latter had said, " confronting the strongest and 
best appointed army of the South," led by the same renowned com- 
mander, who for the first time had been by him defeated. 

No one, apparently, up to a certain point of time, had appreciated 
these facts more strongly than had General Grant, certainly no one 
could have recognized them in stronger language than he had used. 
In recommending General Meade for promotion while the war was 
still in progress, he had described him as one " who had more than met 
his most sanguine expectations"; whom he considered "one of the 
fittest officers for a large command he had come in contact with," 
and regarding whom he "defied any man to name a commander who 
would do more than he had done, with the same chances." And these 
were General Grant's pronounced opinions, to continue in his own 
words, "after a campaign the most protracted and covering more 
severely contested battles than any of which we have any account in 
history. " 

In the brief campaign which took place immediately after these 
expressions of opinion by General Grant, which campaign ended with 
the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia, there had been no 
opportunity for any other general to show greater ability than Gen- 
eral Meade had displayed, even assuming that another who possessed 
it had been present with the army; but whatever did occur in that 
campaign had only served to add increased lustre to the reputation 
of General Meade. Then, as if it had been ordained that this patriotic 
soldier should successfully fill every allotted sphere of duty, General 
Meade had just completed a trying and disagreeable tour of service 
in the civil administration and reconstruction of the South, which, for 
its firm, temperate, and wise course, will bear favorable comparison 
with any similar service, and which received the full approval of 
General Grant. 

It is hard to conceive, therefore, in view of General Grant's rec- 


ognition of General Meade's brilliant services, that he could have 
meditated wrong against him, when gratitude, it should seem, would 
have prompted the deepest consideration of one who by conscientious 
and earnest discharge of duty in carrying out his plans had, more 
than any one else, conduced to their success and enabled him to 
gain the highest honors in the gift of the nation. 

It so happened that a short time before the inauguration of Gen- 
eral Grant, General Meade was paying a flying visit to his family 
in Philadelphia. The rumors as to General Grant's contemplated 
action had by this time become so prevalent and so positive in their 
character that, despite the assertion of some of General Grant's friends 
that he would never dream of committing such a gross act of injustice 
as overlooking General Meade, the latter felt it to be due to himself, 
in order to forestall any possible pretence of misunderstanding as to 
his claims, to express his views clearly to General Grant. He, there- 
fore, on his return to his post in the South, stopped in Washington, 
and in an interview with General Grant referred to the various rumors 
which were rife, and stated explicitly what he regarded as his due, 
and the grounds upon which he founded his claim. General Grant 
listened to what was said, but made no direct reply, intimating neither 
by word nor act what his intentions were. 

But this imperturbable silence was in itself a full reply, and Gen- 
eral Meade for the first time knew that his expectations were not to 
be realized. Although he had been repeatedly warned by his friends 
that this was to be the end, he, with a firm faith that justice would at 
last be done, for justice' sake, had not faltered in his belief. But, al- 
though still clinging to the hope that lingers, despite a man's convic- 
tion, he was now prepared for the worst. He returned to his post 
and there quietly awaited the course of events. 

If he could not then divest himself of all hope that mature reflec- 
tion would bring justice in its train, Grant's later course of action, 
far wider-reaching than that which merely affected Meade personally, 
must have disabused his mind of the idea that there had ever been 
the least warrant for the hope. Times had greatly changed from those 
when he was living the life of camps, in front of the capital in con- 
stant jeopardy. His chief, once installed in the presidential office, 
might well forget the man who, equally strong in council and in action, 
was in the field, but not now indispensable. The military intimacy 
that had subsisted between them had ceased with the war. Their 
training, habits, tastes, all pointed to different paths, far asunder. 


There were no more armies to be extricated from difficult positions, no 
more battles to be fought. General Grant may have felt then, what 
he had said a few months before to General Meade, that " he had been 
pained at the persistently unfair and bitter attacks on him [Meade] by 
a portion of the press of the country." He might have acknowledged, 
as he did personally to General Meade, his regret at the unjust treat- 
ment he [Meade] had received at the hands of the committee on the 
conduct of the war. He might have deplored, as he did, that his 
own presence as general-in-chief within the same theatre of military 
operations should have had the unavoidable effect of overshadowing 
the general commanding the army. But when the time came to 
rectify all these slights of fortune, to rebuke injustice, to stamp with 
approval service which a republic, of all governments, is presumed to 
recognize — that of the most deserving — he was not equal to the deed. 

On the 4th of March, 1869, General Grant was inaugurated 
President of the United States, and almost his first act was the ap- 
pointment of Major-General Sheridan, General Meade's junior in 
rank and years, to the position of lieutenant-general of the army. 
Promotion is a soldier's highest ambition, and General Meade had 
every right to expect it, but he who knew justice required it and in 
whose power it lay did not see fit to give it to him. 

General Meade's opinion of this action is tersely expressed in the 
following letter written to Mrs. Meade immediately after his learning 
of his having been passed over in the promotion: 

To Mrs. George G. Meade: 

Atlanta, March 6, 1869. 
Dear Margaret: 

The blow has been struck and our worst fears realized. Yesterday 
I received late in the afternoon a telegram directing me to turn over 
the command of this department to the next in rank, and proceed to 
Philadelphia to take command of the Military Division of the Atlantic. 
This despatch was from the Adjutant General, but signed by order of 
the General commanding the army. I at once saw that Sherman had 
been made General, and inferred Sheridan was Lieutenant General, 
and that Sherman, in the goodness of his heart, sympathizing with 
me in my affliction, had sent me at the earliest moment to Philadel- 
phia. About nine o'clock came the despatch that Sheridan's name 
had gone in and been confirmed. 


My own sweet love, you can imagine the force of this blow, but 
it is useless to repine over what cannot be remedied, and we must 
find consolation in the consciousness we have that it is the crudest 
and meanest act of injustice, and the hope, if there is any sense of 
wrong or justice in the country, that the man who perpetrated it will 
some day be made to feel so. Dearest, I hope you will take this blow 
with resignation, and be satisfied that I am coming to you, and in 
each other's society try to find that calm, dignified, protest which 
such low conduct alone merits. 

I shall be detained here about a week, but will leave no time in 
getting home. I cannot write all I feel; indeed it is as well I should 
not. God has thought proper to give us a grievous burden to bear, 
and it is our part to endeavor to be submissive. Love to all; I shall 
soon see you. 

Ever yours, 

George G. Meade. 

Conscious of right and of his deserts, General Meade bore the 
stroke unflinchingly in the bosom of his family with Christian forti- 
tude and resignation, and abroad with the calmness of a gentleman. 
He had, in the fulness of his powers, spent his best thought and 
energy and blood for a cause which, successfully upheld, had failed to 
bring in its train for him the only just recognition. He, however, 
believed the day would come when men in their hearts would do him 
justice, a justice of which he was defrauded and of which the rank 
denied him was but the outward symbol. The degree to which he felt 
the injustice that had been done him few even of his intimates ever 
suspected, so jealously did he guard the secret of his heart. Cast in a 
fine mould, he did not wear his heart upon his sleeve for daws to peck 
at, but buried his grief deep in his own bosom, satisfied that when 
petty, jarring interests had had their little day history would do him 
justice, and from a pinnacle on which he defied the assaults of evil 
fortune he looked down on the meaner men below. 

On the 12th of March, 1869, General Meade turned over the 
command of the Department of the South to the next officer in rank, 
Brevet Major-General Ruger, and, proceeding direct to the North, 
assumed command of the Military Division of the Atlantic, head- 
quarters in Philadelphia. 

In April he was seized with an acute attack of pneumonia, and 
for many days his life was despaired of. The disease, however, finally 


yielding to medical skill and careful nursing, the summer found him, 
although recovering slowly, almost restored to his usual health. 

From this time forward his life, so far as concerned his military 
career, was uneventful. Nothing occurred to disturb the routine of 
office duty except an occasional inspection of his command. His ac- 
tive interest continued in all matters connected with the city not con- 
flicting with his military duties. His position as vice-president of the 
Fairmount Park Commission had been kept vacant for him during his 
absence in the South, and it was in acting in this capacity that he found 
his chief occupation and pleasure, rarely a day passing that did not 
find him either riding or driving through the vast extent of the park, 
with every nook of which he was familiar. His presence there never 
ceased to excite pleasurable emotion in those who chanced to catch a 
glimpse of him who, as soldier, had spent so many weary years amid 
the din of battle and the turmoil of civil affairs. Now on horseback, 
often accompanied by one of his daughters, occupied with inspecting 
improvements, with planning bridle-paths, and otherwise contribu- 
ting to the beauties of the grounds, he was to be seen almost daily, 
like any private citizen, enjoying these quiet scenes. 

Naturally, the prominence which he had achieved could not fail 
to be evidenced on all public occasions. But not only in these, but in 
many others, such as where difficult questions arose in the affairs of 
the city, his advice was much sought. Never overburdened with 
worldly goods, he yet gave freely to all charitable works. He was 
identified with many institutions for relief, notably with the Lincoln 
Institution, for the care and education of soldiers' orphans, a work 
in which he was deeply interested. This institution he had been 
chiefly influential in founding and organizing in 1865, and was con- 
tinuously the president of it from that time until his death. The 
general's military duties were now of such a nature that he was 
rarely called from home. He, however, made a point of attending 
the various soldiers' reunions whenever it was possible, for his heart 
always warmed toward and he had always a kind word for a good 
soldier. He regarded it as the duty of those who had acquired 
rank and distinction in the war to prove by their presence and en- 
couragement to those who had served under them, now that their 
services were no longer needed, that they were still thought of and 
held in respect by their former commanders and a grateful country. 
He was a regular attendant at the annual meetings of the Society of 
the Army of the Potomac. Nothing gave him greater pleasure than 


to meet his old comrades of the army and to talk over with them 
their campaigns together. 

He occupied a prominent place in all social gatherings in Phila- 
delphia. His genial manners, conversational powers, consummate 
tact, and wide experience as a man of the world commanded the 
respect and admiration of all whom he met, and few entertain- 
ments were considered complete without his presence as an honored 

He continued in the enjoyment of this tranquil existence during 
the next three short years that were to close his well-rounded life. 
The winters were spent in Philadelphia, occupying the house presented 
to his wife during the war by his personal friends, and the summers 
at a country residence about ten miles from the city. It was here 
that he was living in the summer of 1872, which had been to him a 
period of the most thorough enjoyment. With all his family gathered 
around him, the centre of a refined and cultivated circle sojourning 
in the midst of a beautiful country, with nothing to disturb his well- 
earned ease, he had passed the entire summer at Meadow Bank, in 
the calm enjoyment of a serene existence. The great contentment 
with which his heart had been filled found expression as the time ap- 
proached for his return to the city, when he often regretfully spoke 
of the summer being over and of its having comprised the happiest 
days he had passed for many a long year. 

In October he was again at his home in the city preparing for 
the winter season, everything around him still bright and prosperous, 
himself in the enjoyment of perfect health, and his children advancing 
and settling comfortably in life, his friendly relations with the general- 
in-chief of the army, General Sherman, rendering highly probable his 
security in his present command, which, representing to him his 
home, was naturally the command he desired. As a quiet spectator 
he maintained his wonted interest in public affairs, although latterly 
somewhat withdrawn from active connection with those in power at 
the seat of government. And thus, from every point of view, a long, 
unclouded future seemed assured. His last official letter notified the 
department of the death of Colonel Hartman Bache, of the engi- 
neers, one of his earliest commanding officers, and no one who saw 
him at the funeral of that officer dreamed that within a month they 
would be called upon to perform the same sad rites for him. 

He was, as usual, in his office on October 31, attending to his 
duties and seemingly in excellent health. About noon Mrs. Meade 


called for him, and they left the office together for their daily walk. 
They had gone but a short distance when the general complained 
of severe pains in his side, which increasing in violence, he went 
directly home. By the time he had reached home his suffering 
had become so intense that the family physician, Doctor John Neill, 
was summoned, and pronounced the attack a severe case of pneu- 

Whilst those around him fondly hoped that medical skill and a 
constitution fortified by temperate living would suffice to carry him 
safely through the danger, he himself from the first had a premonition 
that he would not recover, and therefore, whilst never becoming de- 
pressed, but resolutely following out all the directions of his physi- 
cians, he yet made every preparation and took every precaution 
looking toward a fatal end. His instructions and wishes were con- 
veyed to his family calmly, as from one who would not unduly alarm 
and, on the other hand, one who would not permit a sentiment to 
stand in the way of a duty, not only to prepare the minds of those 
whom he loved for the worst, but to give them the benefit of his 
advice for a possible future when his voice should have become silent 
forever. This done, the day before his death he requested to see the 
Reverend Doctor Hoffman, from whose hands he received the holy 
communion. " His heart," as Bishop Whipple said later, in his beau- 
tiful address, " was in the country whither he was going. He looked 
to the Saviour, who was the only one in heaven or earth who could 
help him. He asked for the holy communion, and by the Lord's 
table gathered manna for the last journey; the words of penitence 
and the look of faith were blended with his dying prayers, and he 
fell asleep." 

On the 6th of November, six days from the time when he had been 
stricken, he passed away. To those about him to whom he was so 
dear, whose support and guide he had been through life, his calm and 
resigned departure was a close in keeping with his well-spent life. 
His last thoughts and words were for those whom he had cherished 
throughout life. With a loving look of recognition toward each mem- 
ber of his sorrowing family, and gently murmuring, "I am about 
crossing a beautiful wide river, and the opposite shore is coming 
nearer and nearer," he died. 

The funeral services, conducted by the Right Reverend Bishop 
Odenheimer, assisted by the Reverend Doctor Hoffman, were held on 
November 11, in Saint Mark's Church. Thirty-two years before, in 


the same city, the bishop had joined him in wedlock to her who was 
now left to mourn his loss. The Right Reverend Bishop Whipple, 
of Minnesota, whose visits to him when in camp had been so full of 
solace, made a touching address to the crowded congregation. He 
said: "I do not come to-day to lay a tribute of affection on a great 
soldier's grave; the city, the State and the nation have done this. 
So long as our country lives, these names which are inwrought in her 
history will be household words. I stand by the grave of one I loved. 
My thoughts can only be of the One on whom he leaned as he went 
down into the dark valley, and of the land of beauty which is afar 
off. How poor are words of praise! How empty are the honors of 
the world beside the grave! Far sweeter to the ear are the words 
from heaven, ' Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.' 

"If I asked any of you to describe our brother's character, you 
would tell me he had a woman's gentleness with the strength of a 
great-hearted man. I believe it was the lessons of faith, inwrought 
into a soldier's life, which made him know no guide but duty, which 
made him so kind to the helpless, which placed him foremost in all 
public works, and made his name a household word in all your homes. 
During the dark days of our Civil War I happened to be in Washing- 
ton. He telegraphed me to come and celebrate Easter in his camp 
with the holy communion. It was a strange place for Easter flowers 
and Easter songs, and the story of the Resurrection, but I do not recall 
a sweeter service or one more redolent of the peace of heaven. Of the 
bronzed veterans who knelt beside the Lord's table, some, like Wil- 
liams and Meade, are sleeping with the dead, others are scattered far 
and busy in life's work. 

"That day I knew that we had in our camps centurions who 
feared God and prayed always." 

The solemn service ended, the congregation rose, while the coffin 
was borne from the church, followed by the male relations of the 
general, his intimate personal friends, the President of the United 
States, the general of the army, and many other distinguished 
officers both of the army and navy. It was placed, covered with the 
national flag, upon the caisson upon which it was to be transported. 
The funeral escort, consisting of regular troops and the national guard 
of Pennsylvania, commanded by Major-General McDowell, closed 
around the caisson, which was followed by General Meade's faithful 
old horse, Baldy, who had carried him through many a hard-fought 
field, and by a long line of carriages containing his male relations, per- 


sonal friends, officers of the general, State and city governments, and 
took up the line of march for Laurel Hill, through a city in which 
business was suspended, the public offices closed, and many private 
residences draped in mourning. 

Impressive as the services in Saint Mark's had been, rapt the at- 
tention and evident the grief of those who had formed that congre- 
gation, they paled before the significance of the silence of the vast 
multitude through which the procession took its way towards East 
Fairmount Park. It seemed as though it were marching through the 
city, not of one, but of many dead, so silent were the masses of peo- 
ple through whom it passed. Not an unseemly sight or sound oc- 
curred to mar the solemnity of the occasion. The respectful attitude, 
the uncovered heads, the perfect silence of the crowds, bore testimony 
far beyond even the powerful words which but a few minutes before 
had been uttered at the church. Arrived within the inclosure of 
East Fairmount Park, the effect was intensified. It was an autumn 
day, cloudy, calm, the foliage changed to sombre hues, the whole 
landscape breathing of sadness and peace, but more than all, upon it 
seemed to have descended, as if from heaven, a solemn stillness among 
the masses of people who filled and crowded the hill-sides. 

A brief halt ensued, until regiments, drawn up in line on the broad 
level expanse between the hills, for the first time broke the silence by 
volleys of musketry, when the remains were borne to the steam-boat, 
followed by the small party and the guard of honor who were to 
accompany them to the grave, and who having embarked, the boat 
pushed out into the stream amid a final volley of musketry from the 
regiments on shore. 

Draped in a deep pall of black, noiseless and without jar, she 
passed up the river, opening to view its beautiful banks, clothed in 
autumnal foliage, and the stillness, gone for a moment in the crash of 
musketry, came back and continued to accompany the dead soldier, 
as he was borne to his last resting-place past banks on which, drawn 
up at intervals in line, stood regiment after regiment, with its band 
playing a dirge as his requiem, the notes of one becoming fainter and 
fainter as those of the next were wafted down the stream. And so, 
to the landing at Laurel Hill, the strange stillness, broken only by the 
sad music, followed the dead as his mortal remains were borne near 
to their resting-place through the scenes which he had loved so 

They laid to rest with the last sad rites, beside his eldest boy, 


called away in the dark hours of the war, the hero of Gettysburg, the 
record of whose simple tombstone reads: 

George Gordon Meade, 

Major-General U. S. Army. 

Born in Cadiz, Spain, Dec. 31st, 1815. 

Died in Phila., Pa., Nov. 6th, 1872. 

" He did his work bravely and is at rest." 

So lived and died one who, according to those who knew him best, 
whether parent, brother, sister, wife, child, friend, or fellow-soldier, 
bore himself nobly. 



JULY 8, 1863. SEE PAGE 132, VOL. II 

HallecJc to Meade: 

Washington, July 7, 1863, 2.55 p. m. 
It gives me great pleasure to inform you that you have been ap- 
pointed a Brig. Gen. in the Regular Army to rank from July 3rd, the 
date of your brilliant victory at Gettysburg. 


7-10, 1863, MENTIONED IN LETTER OF JULY 10, 1863. SEE 
PAGE 133, VOL. II 

HallecJc to Meade : 

July 7. 
I have received from the President the following note, which I respect- 
fully communicate. 

Maj. Gen. Halleck 

We have certain information that Vicksburg surrendered to Genl. 
Grant on the 4th of July. Now, if Gen. Meade can complete this work, 
so gloriously prosecuted thus far, by the literal or substantial destruction 
of Lee's Army the rebellion will be over. 

Yours truly 

A. Lincoln. 

Halleck to Meade : 

July 7, 8.45 p. m. 
You have given the enemy a stunning blow at Gettysburg, follow it 
up and give him another before he can cross the Potomac. When he 
crosses circumstances will determine whether it will be best to pursue 
him by the Shenandoah Valley or this side of Blue Ridge. There is strong 
evidence that he is short of Artillery ammunition and if vigorously pressed 
he must suffer. 



Halleck to Meade : 

July 7, 9 p. m. 
I have seen your despatches to Gen. Couch of 4.30 p. m. You are 
perfectly right. Push forward and fight Lee before he can cross the 

Halleck to Meade : 

July 8, 12.30 p. m. 
There is reliable information that the enemy is crossing at Williams- 
port. The opportunity to attack his divided forces should not be lost. 
The President is urgent and anxious that your Army should move against 
him by forced marches. 

Meade to Halleck : 

July 8, 1863, 2 p. m. 
Gen'l Couch learns from scouts that the train is crossing at Williams- 
port very slowly. So long as the river is unfordable the enemy cannot 
cross. My cavalry report that they had a fight near Funks town, through 
which they drove the enemy to Hagerstown, where a large infantry force 
was seen. From all I can gather the enemy extends from Hagerstown 
to Williamsport covering the march of their trains. Their cavalry and 
infantry pickets are advanced to the Hagerstown and Sharpsburg pike, 
on the general line of the Antietam. We hold Boonsboro, and our 
pickets, four miles in front, toward Hagerstown, are in contact with the 
enemy's pickets. My Army is assembling slowly; the rains of yester- 
day and last night have made all roads but pikes almost impassable. 
Artillery and wagons are stalled; it will take time to collect them to- 
gether. A large portion of the men are barefooted. Shoes will arrive 
at Frederick today and will be issued as soon as possible. The spirit of 
the Army is high; the men are ready and willing to make any exertion to 
push forward. The very first moment I can get the different commands, 
the artillery and cavalry, properly supplied and in hand, I will move 
forward. Be assured I most earnestly desire to try the fortunes of war 
with the enemy on this side of the river, hoping, through Providence 
and the bravery of my men to settle the question, but I should be wrong 
not to frankly tell you of the difficulties encountered. I expect to find 
the enemy in a strong position, well covered with artillery, and I do not 
desire to imitate his example at Gettysburg and assault a position when 
the chances are so greatly against success. I wish in advance to moder- 
ate the expectation of those who, in ignorance of the difficulties to be 
encountered, may expect too much. All that I can do under the cir- 
cumstances, I pledge this Army to do. 

Meade to Halleck : 

July 8, 1863, 3 p. m. 
My information as to the crossing of the enemy does not agree with 
that just received in your dispatch. His whole force is in position be- 
tween Funkstown and Williamsport. I have just received information 


that he has driven in my cavalry force in front of Boonsboro. My Army 
is and has been making forced marches, short of rations and barefooted. 
Our Corps marched yesterday and last night over 30 miles. I take oc- 
casion to repeat that I will use my utmost efforts to push forward this 

Halleck to Meade : 

July 8, 5 p. m. 
Do not understand me as expressing any dissatisfaction. On the con- 
trary your Army has done most nobly. I only wish to give you opinions 
formed from information received here. It is telegraphed from near 
Harpers Ferry that the enemy have been crossing for the last two days. 
It is also reported that they have a bridge across. If Lee's Army is 
divided by the river the importance of attacking the part on this side 
is incalculable — such an opportunity may never occur again. If on the 
contrary he has massed his whole force on the Antietam time must be 
taken to also concentrate your forces — Your opportunities for informa- 
tion are better than mine. Brig. Gen. Kelly was ordered some days ago 
to concentrate at Hancock and attack the enemy's right. Maj. Gen. 
Brooks is also moving from Pittsburgh to reinforce Kelly. All troops ar- 
riving from New York and Fort Monroe are sent directly to Harpers 
Ferry unless you order differently. You will have forces sufficient to 
render your victory certain. My only fear now is that the enemy may 
escape by crossing the river. 

Meade to Halleck : 

Middletown, July 9, 1863, 11 a. m. 

The Army is moving in three columns, the right column having in 
it three Corps. The line occupied to-day with the advance will be on 
the other side of the mountains, from Boonsboro to Rohrersville. Two 
Corps will march without their artillery, the animals being completely 
exhausted, many falling on the road. 

The enemy's infantry were driven back yesterday evening from 
Boonsboro, or rather they retired on being pressed, towards Hagerstown. 
I am still under the impression that Lee's whole force is between Hagers- 
town and Williamsport, with an advance at Middleburg, on the road to 
Greencastle, observing Couch. The state of the river and the difficulty 
of crossing has rendered it imperative on him, to have his army, artillery 
and trains, ready to receive my attack. I propose to move on a line 
from Boonsboro towards the centre of the line from Hagerstown to Will- 
iamsport, my left flank looking to the river, and my right towards the 
mountains, keeping the road to Frederick in my rear and centre. I shall 
try to keep as concentrated as the roads by which I can move will admit, 
so that should the enemy attack, I can mass to meet him, and if he as- 
sumes the defensive, I can deploy as I think proper. 

I transmit a copy of dispatch sent to Gen. Smith at Waynesboro ; one 
of like tenor was sent to Gen. Couch. The operations of both these offi- 
cers should be made to conform to mine. They can readily ascertain my 


progress from scouts and by the movements of the enemy; and if the 
forces under them are of any practical value, they could join my right 
flank and assist in the attack. My cavalry will be pushed to-day well 
to the front on the right and left, and I hope will collect information. It 
is with the greatest difficulty that I can obtain any reliable intelligence of 
the enemy. I send you a dispatch received this A. M. from Gen. Neill, in 
command of a brigade of infantry and one of cavalry, who followed the 
retreat of the enemy through Fairfield and effected a junction with Gen. 
Smith, at Waynesboro. A copy of my dispatch to Gen. Smith is also 
sent you. When I spoke of two Corps having to leave their batteries 
behind, I should have stated that they remained at Frederick to get new 
horses and shoe the others, and they will rejoin their Corps this P. M. 
The object of the remark was to show the delay. 

I think the decisive battle of the war will be fought in a few days; in 
view of its momentous consequences I desire to adopt such measures as, 
in my judgment, will tend to ensure success, even though these may be 
deemed tardy. 

11.30 A. M. — A deserter has just been brought within our lines, who 
reported the enemy's army all between Hagerstown and Williamsport ; 
that they have brought up a bridge from Winchester, which is now thrown 
across at Williamsport; that they are using this bridge, not to cross their 
forces, but to bring over supplies; that the men are in fine spirits, and the 
talk among them is, they mean to try it again. This deserter says he 
belongs to the artillery of Stuart's command. I send the information 
for what it is worth. 

Halleck to Meade : 

July 9, 1863, 3 p. m. 
The evidence that Lee's army will fight north of the Potomac seems 
reliable. In that case you will want all your forces in hand. Kelley is 
collecting at Hancock. I have directed him to push forward, so as to 
take part in the coming battle. Brooks' militia refused to cross the 
Pennsylvania line. Everything I can get here will be pushed on to 
Harper's Ferry, from which place you can call them in to your left. Do 
not be influenced by any dispatch from here against your own judgment. 
Regard them as suggestions only. Our information here is not always 
correct. Take any horses or supplies you can find in the country. They 
can be settled for afterward. Would it not be well to fortify the Hagers- 
town Gap, through the South Mountain as a part of the support? 

Halleck to Meade : 

July 9, 4.30 p. m. 
Two full regiments and two complete batteries are ordered to leave 
here to night. Three Brigades are on their way and may be expected 
to morrow or the day after. They will be sent to Harpers Ferry unless 
you wish otherwise. I shall do everything in my power to reinforce 
you. I fully appreciate the importance of the coming battle. 


Meade to Halleck : 

July 10, 1863, 1 p. m. 

The information received to-day indicates that the enemy occupy 
positions extending from the Potomac, near Falling Water, through 
Downsville to Funkstown and to the northeast of Hagerstown, Ewell's 
Corps being to the northeast of Hagerstown, Longstreet's at Funkstown 
and A. P. Hill's on their right. These positions they are said to be in- 

I am advancing on a line perpendicular to the line from Hagerstown 
to Williamsport, and the Army will this evening occupy a position extend- 
ing from the Boonsboro and Hagerstown road, at a point one mile beyond 
Beaver Creek, to Bakersville, near the Potomac. Our cavalry advance 
this morning drove the enemy's cavalry, on the Boonsboro pike, to within 
a mile of Funkstown, when the enemy deployed a large force and opened 
a fire from heavy guns (20-pounders). 

I shall advance cautiously on the same line to-morrow until I can 
develop more fully the enemy's position and force, upon which my future 
operations will depend. 

General Smith is still at Waynesboro; a dispatch was received from 
him at that place, this morning. Instructions similar to those of yester- 
day were sent to him. 

Halleck to Meade : 

July 10, 9 p. m. 
I think it will be best for you to postpone a general battle till you can 
concentrate all your forces and get up your reserve and reinforcements. I 
will push on the troops as fast as they arrive. It would be well to have 
staff officers at the Monocacy to direct the troops arriving where to go 
and see that they are properly fitted out. They should join you by 
forced marches. Beware of partial combats, bring up and hurl upon the 
enemy all your forces, good and bad. 



Halleck to Meade July 14 (in part): 

I need hardly say to you that the escape of Lee's army without an- 
other battle has created great dissatisfaction in the mind of the Presi- 
dent, and it will require an active and energetic pursuit on your part 
to remove the impression that it has not been sufficiently active here- 


Meade to Halleck July 14: 

Having performed my duty conscientiously and to the best of my 
ability, the censure of the President conveyed in your dispatch of 1 p. m. 
this day, is, in my judgment, so undeserved that I feel compelled most 
respectfully to ask to be immediately relieved from the command of 
this army. 

Halleck to Meade July 14: 

My telegram stating the disappointment of the President at the 
escape of Lee's army was not intended as a censure, but as a stimulus 
to an active pursuit. It is not deemed a sufficient cause for your appli- 
cation to be relieved. 


JULY 21, 1863. SEE PAGE 136, VOL. II 

New York, July 11, 1863. 

My dear General: 

I have abstained from writing to you simply because I hear that you 
have no time to read letters — but I will say a word now, anyhow. 

I wish to offer you my sincere and heartfelt congratulations upon the 
glorious victory you have achieved, and the splendid way in which you 
assumed control of our noble old army under such trying circumstances. 

You have done all that could be done and the Army of the Potomac 
has supported you nobly. I don't know that, situated as I am, my 
opinion is worth much to any of you — but I can trust saying that I feel 
very proud of you and my old Army. I don't natter myself that your 
work is over — I believe that you have another severe battle to fight, but 
I am confident that you will win. 

That God may bless you and your army in its future conflicts is the 
prayer of 

Your sincere friend 

Geo. B. McClellan. 
Maj. Gen'l G. G. Meade 

Corny. Army of Potomac. 



TER OF AUGUST 31, 1863. SEE PAGE 145, VOL. II 

(New York Tribune, August 31, 1863) 

Gen. Crawford, and Officers of the Division of Pennsylvania Reserve 
Corps : I accept this sword with feelings of profound gratitude and with 
just pride. I should be insensible to all the generous feelings of hu- 
manity, if I were not proud and grateful at receiving a testimonial of 
approbation from a band of officers and men so distinguished as has been 
the Division of the Pennsylvania Reserve Corps during the whole period 
of this war. I have a right, therefore, to be proud that such a body of 
soldiers should think my conduct, and my course, of such a character as 
to justify them in collecting together here so many distinguished gentle- 
men as I see around me from different parts of the country, and particu- 
larly our own State, to present to me, this handsome testimonial, which 
is no more than saying, I have done my duty toward them. From the 
very commencement of my connection with that corps as Commander of 
the Second Brigade, in the Fall of 1861, it was my earnest desire to do 
my duty by officers and men, and I faithfully endeavored, during the 
time I commanded them, to discharge my duty toward them as to men 
entitled to every consideration for the manner in which they had per- 
formed their services to their country. I am very glad that you have 
mentioned the distinguished gentleman present, the Governor of Penn. ; I 
have a personal knowledge of his efforts to raise this corps, and, after it 
was raised and organized, to see that all its interests were attended to upon 
every occasion. I have been with him many times as he visited the men 
and officers, with a zeal that never tired, to see that all their wants were 
supplied, and to stir them up to renewed exertion by his patriotic and 
manly eloquence. I am, therefore, glad that you have been able to wit- 
ness this presentation from Pennsylvania soldiers, and I hope that the 
citizens of Pennsylvania have appreciated and will remember his ser- 
vices in promoting the interest of our country and suppressing this Re- 
bellion. [Applause.] In speaking of the pride with which I receive a 
sword from this division, I feel justified, though it may seem egotistic, 
in saying a few words of the service rendered by the Pennsylvania Reserve 
Corps: and I say unhesitatingly before this large assembly, and in view 
of the history of the War, which will vindicate my words, there is no 
division in the Army of the Potomac, glorious as I consider it, which can 
claim greater credit for gallant and laborious service than the Pennsyl- 
vania Reserve Corps. [Applause.] In this, Sir, I take no credit to my- 
self. It is not my own personal services, but the services of the soldiers 
of which I speak — the gallantry of the privates of the Pennsylvania 
Corps. I have only to appeal to Dranesville — the first success that 


crowned the arms of the Army of the Potomac — which was gained by 
the unaided gallantry of one brigade of this division; I have only to refer 
to Mechanicsville, where the whole of Longstreet's Corps was held in 
check for several hours and a victory achieved by two brigades alone of 
the Pennsylvania Corps. [Cheers.] I have only to allude to New 
Market Cross Roads, sometimes called Glendale, to which I refer most 
emphatically, because some of the most distinguished officers of this 
army, ignorant of the facts and misled by information received at the 
time, but which subsequently proved incorrect, have brought grave 
charges against this Division. Upon that field I stood by this Corps 
till dark, when it pleased God I should be shot down. It has been said 
that this Corps ran from that field, but I stood there with them and saw 
them fighting in their places until darkness fell upon the field, and at the 
time I was borne away my men were engaged in a hand-to-hand contest 
with the batteries of the enemy; and although there were men who left 
the field, as there are always cowards in every army and every division, 
yet the large body of this gallant Corps, remained there steadily facing 
the enemy until dark. They never ran away; and the two guns said to 
be taken from them by the enemy were in fact left the next day, aban- 
doned by our army, and not captured from the Pennsylvania Reserve 
Corps. I will also point to South Mountain, of which it is not necessary 
to say much, for the gallantry of the Reserve Corps in ascending that 
height, and turning the left wing of the enemy, was recognized by the 
commander and is known to all the country; of Antietam, where they 
commenced the attack on the 16th of September, and unaided took such 
of the Confederate batteries as were in their front and held their position 
until next morning, when the battle was renewed; again of Fredericks- 
burg, where this division alone and unaided advanced to the attack, drove 
the enemy from their position, and held for twenty minutes a position on 
those heights which, if they had been sufficiently supported and enabled 
to hold, would have given us a victory. [Cheers.] Have I not, then, a 
right to be justly proud, when the officers and men of a command, which 
have performed such services, which I now declare to be truth and fact, 
present me with this testimonial? I think I have a right to be proud 
and grateful, and I feel a proportionate pride and gratitude to-day. But 
while I express this pride and gratitude, it is not unmingled with mourn- 
ful feelings. When I look around and reflect how many of the gallant 
officers and brave soldiers who originally composed this Corps are now 
sleeping their sleep in lonely battlefields, and how many others are now 
limping over the country mutilated cripples, I cannot but be saddened 
to think that your glorious achievement should be attended with such 
misfortune; that this fair country, which should be resting in peace and 
flowing with milk and honey, is disturbed and desolated by intestine war; 
that our arms, in preserving the integrity of the country, should have 
been compelled to enact the scenes I have witnessed. This testimonial, 
gratifying as it is under the circumstances, suggests many sad thoughts. 
At the same time I feel that I, and all the rest of you, are doing only 
our duty, acting from the highest impulses of the heart. It must not be — 


it is impossible — that this Government should be divided; that there 
should be two Governments and two flags on this continent. Every man 
of you, I am sure, is willing to sacrifice his life in vindication of the prin- 
ciple that our Government must be preserved as it was handed down to 
us, and but one flag shall wave over the whole territory, which shall be 
called the Republic of the United States. [Prolonged cheers.] Like you, 
I remember, sadly, mournfully, the names of the fallen. I am sorry that 
I cannot now recall the roll of honor of the Pennsylvania Reserve Corps. 
There is one — your former commander, first of brigade and then of divi- 
sion, one of the noblest souls among men, one of the most accomplished 
officers of this army — Major-General John F. Reynolds, I cannot receive 
this sword without thinking of that officer, and the heroic manner in which 
he met his fate in front at Gettysburg. There I lost, not only a lieutenant 
most important to me in his services, but a friend and brother. When 
I think, too, of others fallen — of McNeill and Taylor, of the Rifles; of 
Simmons, of the Fifth; of DeHone of Massachusetts; of young Kuhn, 
who came from Philadelphia and assisted me so efficiently, and many 
more who are gone, I am saddened by the recollection. It is more op- 
pressive to go over the names of those who have been sacrificed. I wish 
I could mention the names of all the soldiers, but it would be a long, long 
list, that would include the names of all those from the Pennsylvania 
Reserve Corps who are now resting in honorable graves or crippled and 
mutilated in the service of their country. I thank you, Sir, for the kind 
manner in which you have conveyed to me this elegant testimonial, and 
to all those gentlemen, who have come so far to be present on this occa- 
sion, I am extremely grateful. I trust that this sword will be required 
but a short time longer. Events now look as if this unhappy war might 
soon be brought to a termination. All I can say to those gentlemen who 
have come here, is to earnestly entreat them on their return home to 
spare no effort to let the people know that all we want is men — men to 
fill up our thinned ranks. Give us the numbers, and in a short time I 
think the people on the other side will be satisfied that the result is in- 
evitable, that it is only a question of time, and, seeing that we are bring- 
ing to bear the numbers which are required, they will themselves yield. 
Before I close, let me add what I had intended to say before, but it es- 
caped my memory until this moment, an expression of my gratification 
that I heard that on the field of Gettysburg the division of the Penn- 
sylvania Reserve Corps, under your command, enacted deeds worthy of 
its former reputation, and proved that there was no change whatever in 
the division — deeds which I feel satisfied will always be achieved by them 
while the division is composed of such officers and men. Thanking you 
again for this testimonial, and for the kind manner in which it has been 
conveyed to me, I will here conclude my remarks. [Renewed applause.] 




(W ilkes' Spirit of the Times of August 29, 1863) 


in regard to 
The Army of the Potomac 

(The following letter comes from a distinguished military writer who has had 
much observation in the Army of the Potomac, and whose opinions we can assure 
the readers of the Spirit are well worth noting. It was written to a personal 
friend in this city, and from his hands we obtain it.) 

Washington, August 16, 1863. 
My dear Sir: 

The Army of the Potomac — that army which has so often elevated 
men from mediocrity into greatness — that army which has marched, 
fought and bled to no purpose — now lies in sweet repose along the line 
of the Rappahannock, patiently waiting, as Micawber says, "for some- 
thing to turn up." The history of this army is one of barren toil, suffer- 
ing and death. Its successes are magnified by venal letter-writers into 
great victories, and its defeats are represented as splendid strokes of 
strategy. It is thus that a confiding people have been humbugged from 
month to month, and year to year. History can furnish no instance that 
will even remotely compare with this army for gross ignorance and mis- 
management. In no instance has success been followed up with vigorous 
and rapid blows; on the contrary, the enemy have been allowed to re- 
treat without molestation, until they had time to rally their scattered 
forces and fortify themselves. The battle of Gettysburg was purely 
defensive, and our success was mainly due to the natural strength of our 
position, to our artillery, and the firmness of a portion of the troops, but 
in no degree to the strategy or ability displayed by any of the generals, 
from the senior down. 

Here indeed, was an opportunity for a general to have shown the 
qualities of an able commander, if he possessed them. His troops, how- 
ever decimated, had, by his own account, suffered far less than the 
enemy. But his army, flushed with victory, was not permitted to follow 
up and harass a beaten, dispirited and demoralized enemy, hampered 
with a vast amount of plunder, thousands of wounded, and an impass- 
able river obstructing their retreat; and while letter-writers were an- 
nouncing their hopelessness of its escape, Lee's army was quickly making 
arrangements for crossing without the slightest interruption from Gen. 


Meade, or serious effort to penetrate his design. Suggestions were made 
and heard, to send a force above the rebel position, when by cutting trees 
and throwing them into the river, his pontoons or other bridges might be swept 
away. But Gen. Meade's frequently declared belief was, that Lee could 
cross when he pleased ; that he did not intend to cross, but meant to fight. 
The sequel shows how completely he was deceived. Had Gen. Meade 
possessed the activity of either Grant or Rosecrans, and, I may add, of 
Hooker, he could, by a cavalry reconnaissance on the south side of the 
Potomac, and a forced one on the Maryland side, have easily discovered 
Lee's true intentions ; and had he attacked him with his army divided by 
that river, he must have inevitably destroyed or captured one half of it. 
But blinded and deceived by Lee, timidity ruled the hour, and the golden 
opportunity, that is only to be seen and grasped by genius, was lost for- 
ever. Here, then, we have a commander but a few days previous mag- 
nified into a great general, for his success in a battle which he was forced, 
in defence, to fight; which was due alone to the natural strength of his 
position, and the courage of the rank and file, and not, as I have before 
said, to any display of his military abilities. And yet, when an occasion 
was subsequently presented for the exercise of his qualities as a com- 
mander, he tranquilly sits down before a hastily constructed gutter (mis- 
called entrenchments) for a week, and quietly permits the enemy to pre- 
pare for and cross a formidable stream that barred his retreat. Who can 
estimate the future sacrifice of life that must ensue from this terrible mis- 

The public must have news to feed upon. It matters not, it would 
seem, whether it be true or false; and hence they will hear before long of 
some remarkable things that are soon to take place, which they are not 
at liberty to reveal. But it may as well make up its mind that the Army 
of the Potomac will never accomplish anything. With some few excep- 
tions, it is the worst handled body of men, so far as the general officers 
are concerned, that the world has ever seen. This is, in a great measure, 
due to the accursed political influence that has blighted and almost 
destroyed its energy and efficiency. It is due, also, to the many com- 
manders outside the army proper, who have restrained and controlled 
its action on more than one important occasion, from the President down; 
and above all, it is due to the many ignorant and self -sufficient politicians 
who have been appointed to high commands, and the large infusion of 
foreign adventurers into the different staffs. 




(Wilkes' Spirit of the Times, December 26, 1863) 
(From the Washington Republican) 



General Halleck, in his report of the operations of our armies in the 
field during the past year, in commenting upon the Battle of Gettysburg, 
says : " To General Meade belonged the honor of a well-earned victory, 
in one of the greatest and best fought battles of the war." 

As a public journalist, we cannot allow such a record to be made in 
the face of the well-known history of the battle of Gettysburg, now made 
classic by the eloquence of Everett, and in view of the important part 
the gallant Hooker and his chief of staff performed preliminary to, and 
during the battle, without entering our solemn protest against it. And 
in doing this, we do not mean to detract in the slightest degree from the 
reputation and honor of General Meade. 

It is a matter of history that the army of the Potomac was never in 
finer drill, or better discipline, or more thoroughly in "fighting trim" 
than it was when it fought at Gettysburg. So much to the credit of 
General Hooker. 

It is a matter of history that when the advance column of the rebel 
army was within a day's march of the capital of Pennsylvania, and the 
main body of the rebel army was in Maryland, following the advances, 
Lee, supposing that he had out-generaled Hooker, and made sure of 
Baltimore and Washington, was startled to find Hooker across the Po- 
tomac and right on his flank. So much to the credit of the latter. 

It is a matter of history that when General Hooker was about to 
direct some of the troops in the field (on Maryland Heights) under his 
command to prepare for a blow upon Lee's flank, before the latter could 
contract his lines, which would have resulted in cutting the rebel army in 
two, Hooker's plans were interrupted by the general-in-chief, and at his 
(Hooker's) own request, feeling justly indignant at the treatment he had 
received, he was relieved. General Lee, in his report to Jeff Davis, 
acknowledges he was outflanked and outgeneraled by Hooker. So much 
to the credit of the latter. 

It is a matter of history that when General Butterfield made out his 
line of marches in Maryland, he was directed by Hooker to keep well to 
the right in order to cover Baltimore, intending thereby to force Lee to 
fight at Gettysburg or thereabouts. So much to the credit of Hooker. 

It is a matter of history that Hooker had formed a general plan of 
battle: that his Chief of Staff had that plan; that Gen. Meade knew it; 


that, as Hooker's successor, Meade had not only the benefit of Hooker's 
plans and necessarily acted upon them, but he also had Hooker's Chief of 
Staff (Gen. Butterfield) by his side constantly, and, if General Hooker 
dislikes to acknowledge the facts briefly cited above in his report, it does 
not detract any the less from the gentlemanly and soldierlike conduct of 
Gen. Meade, who, immediately after the battle of Gettysburg, in a per- 
sonal letter to Gen. Butterfield, acknowledged his great indebtedness to that 
officer for his valuable aid, without which, he stated, he could not have suc- 
ceeded. Gen. Butterfield knew all of Hooker's plans, and was instructed 
by the latter to communicate them freely to Gen. Meade, and we happen 
to know that Gen. Meade received them, acted upon them, and, after the 
battle, like a true gentleman, acknowledged his gratitude. So much to the 
credit of Gen. Hooker. 

It is not a matter of history, but it is a matter of the plainest common 
sense, that neither Gen. Meade or any other military chieftain living could 
have taken the Army of the Potomac, and in so short a time have it well 
enough "in hand" to hurl it successfully against such a witty, well or- 
ganized, and well led host, without aid from his immediate predecessor. 

Gen. Meade can ask for no higher honor than that which he acquired 
by winning such a victory over the best disciplined army the rebels have 
in the field, in a series of battles which commenced only about forty-eight 
hours after he assumed command of the Army of the Potomac, even upon 
the plans of another ! 

Mr. Everett, in his oration at Gettysburg, did not fail to do Gen. 
Hooker justice; nor did Gen. Lee, the leader of the crestfallen and de- 
feated rebel army. We regret the more, therefore, that the General-in- 
Chief of the army of the United States, in making up an official report, 
which is now a part of the history of the present war, and to whom the 
country looks for a faithful chronicler of passing military events, should 
have omitted to do so, especially in view of the signal service Gen. 
Hooker has recently rendered by his dashing and daring exploits in the 
mountain fastnesses of the west, astonishing, even the peerless Grant, who 
promptly awarded to "Fighting Joe" and his brave troops the credit so 
justly due to him and them. Honor to whom it is due. 





(Special Dispatch to the N. Y. Tribune) 

Washington, Monday, March 7, 1864. 

The points made before the War Investigating Committee against 
Gen. Meade, who is substantially on trial before this congressional Com- 
mission, by the testimony of Gens. Sickles and Doubleday, are, that he 
gave and promulgated an order to his army to retreat from Gettysburg 
at the close of the first day's fight, when his superior strength, his 
advantage of position, and the honor and interests of the country, re- 
quired him to give battle; that, in the forenoon of the second day's 
fight — Thursday — he gave another order to retreat, but which was not 
promulgated in writing; that he had made no dispositions for battle that 
day, had no plan for fighting, and seemingly no purpose to fight, but 
that the battle was precipitated by Gen. Sickles, and forced on Meade in 
part by the enemy, but principally by General Sickles, that Meade did 
not know on Friday night that our men had whipped Lee, or distrusted the 
fact that night, and was so uncertain of it on Saturday that he dared 
not pursue the beaten enemy, and weakly and ignorantly threw away the 
certainty of capture or destroying the entire Rebel army; that for a few 
moments he yielded to persuasions to let the 3d Corps pursue, but counter- 
manded the order to do so in ten minutes after it was given, saying, 
alluding to the Rebels, "Oh, let them go;" that Meade's subsequent rep- 
resentation that he was not in condition to pursue was not true; that his 
army was abundantly able and in condition to make immediate pursuit, 
and, if necessary, to fight and crush Lee's disordered columns; that the 
6th Corps was fresh and substantially intact; it had lost only 100 men, 
the 12th Corps had lost only 700 and had about 12,000 left, the 3d 
Corps had 6,000 men left and prayed to be permitted to pursue; the whole 
of the cavalry, 10,000 was intact and fresh. Gen. French had at Frederick 
10,000 veterans in perfect condition, and Couch's great force was also 
at Meade's call. That, in a word, he had over 40,000 effective and ardent 
troops with which to pursue and destroy Lee's flying and demoralized 
army, but refused to use them and suffered the enemy to escape. It is 
upon the question of the issuance of the second order to retreat that 
Gen. Butterfield has been summoned. 

In the committee room it is understood that the origin of the effort 
made by Gen. Meade to break up the Third Corps to the waste of its 


esprit, and the discontent of every man and officer in it, and dissatisfac- 
tion with the service, was the refusal of the corps to subscribe to the 
McClellan testimonial. 

It is stated that testimony can be added to convict Gen. Meade of 
expressing the opinion that we cannot subdue the Rebels. Gens. Bir- 
ney and Pleasonton, examined before the War Committee to-day, told 
the remarkable story of the war councils called during and after the battle 
of Gettysburg, and exhibited the strength and efficiency of the army the 
morning after the last day's fight. The testimony of both these Generals 
was very damaging. 



(The Round Table, A Weekly Record of the Notable, the Useful and the Tasteful) 
(New York, Saturday, March 12, 1864) 


This question is now absorbing the attention of the authorities at 
Washington, and soon will be, if it is not already, decided. The fatality 
that has attached to every commander of the brave Army of the Potomac 
has affixed itself to General Meade. The movement against him, at first 
only whispered among a few discontented subordinates in the army, has 
at last reached the capital, and has attained the dignity — if dignity it 
be — of an open opposition. The main movers appear to be General 
Daniel E. Sickles and the new Committee on the Conduct of the War. 
It is urged that General Meade is too slow; that but for the dash of some 
of his division commanders the victory at Gettysburg would have been 
a cowardly retreat; that he erred in not following up Lee immediately 
after that battle; and that since that time he has let slip more than one 
opportunity of adding new laurels to those of which the Army of the 
Potomac cherish an honorable pride. Such, in brief, are the charges 
against General Meade. 

It is well known that, in his report of the battle of Gettysburg, Gen- 
eral Meade indirectly censured General Sickles for advancing farther 
than he had authority to do by virtue of his orders, and so not only sub- 
jected his corps to severe loss, but rendered the extrication of it from the 
difficulty in which it was thereby involved no easy task. Whether Gen- 
eral Sickles intentionally disobeyed or unintentionally misinterpreted his 
orders, was not distinctly stated. But one thing is certain, that the fact 
that General Sickles lost a leg in the engagement saved him from removal 
from the army. We honor General Sickles for the devotion to the cause of 


his country; we honor him for the untiring energy and personal bravery he 
has displayed in its defense; and when the war shall be ended and the roll 
of honor made out, we shall not be the last to claim for General Sickles 
no mean place on it. But we cannot blink the fact that General Sickles 
is quite as much a politician as a soldier. We know that he has accom- 
plished more by personal address, adroitness, and cunning management 
of newspaper correspondents, than by actual display of military ability. 
* * * He is not a man to forget a fancied slight or to lose an opportu- 
nity of resenting it. In view of this, we are at no loss to account for his 
hostility to General Meade. As to the Committee on the Conduct of 
the War, the less that is said of it the better. So much for General 
Meade's accusers. 

Concerning General Meade, we presume no one will deny that he is a 
high-minded gentleman and a thorough soldier. All his dispatches and 
reports show that he has the instincts of a gentleman; and since he has 
been in the command of the Army of the Potomac he has won one great 
battle, has obtained several smaller successes, and has suffered no great 
disaster. As regards the battle of Gettysburg, the fate of Philadelphia, 
Baltimore, and Washington, and perhaps of the nation itself, depended 
upon him, and with this in mind he had no business to take any risks. We 
see now how a pursuit of Lee immediately after the battle might have 
proved advantageous; but General Meade could not feel sure of it then, 
and under the circumstances he ought not to have undertaken the pur- 
suit unless he was certain of its proving successful. 

As a strategist and a tactician, General Meade has displayed no or- 
dinary military ability. His disposition of his troops at Gettysburg has 
yet to be questioned, while the various movements he has planned since 
then, though not ending in the results which were hoped for, have stamped 
him as an able general. His retreat in the valley of the Shenandoah, when 
outflanked by Lee, was more than redeemed by the fact that he captured 
a number of rebel prisoners, which is, we believe, the only instance in the 
war in which a retreating force not only saved itself, but captured no 
small portion of its pursuers. Indeed, the rebels acknowledge this. The 
retreat from Mine Run, though it was to be regretted, reflected but little 
on General Meade, for his plan of the movement was proved to have been 
good, despite the failure in its execution. 

Besides, the present is not a time for the removal of a general in com- 
mand of so important an army, unless his faults be much greater than 
any that can be proved of General Meade. The spring campaign is about 
to open — who is better fitted to lead the Army of the Potomac than he who 
led it to victory at Gettysburg, and has since kept its honor bright? We 
have changed commanders too often; with the exception of General 
Meade, each change has been for the worse. We tried Burnside, Pope, 
Hooker, and found each of them wanting. There was no victory be- 
tween those of Antietam and Gettysburg. It is due to the general who 
won the latter that he should have a chance to share the honors of the 
triumphs which we hope are awaiting our armies in the coming campaign. 
This is no time for experiments. And so long as we have got a good 


commander — one, too, who has proved himself such — we should stand by 
him ; certainly we should not remove him to gratify the pique of any man 
or any set of men. General Grant was given a fair trial after the disaster 
at Belmont and Shiloh. Shall not as much be granted to General Meade, 
who as yet has met with no disaster? 



(New York Herald, March 12, 1864) 


Important Communication from an Eye-witness 

how the victory was won and how its advantages were lost 

generals halleck's and meade's official reports refuted 

&c, &c, &c. 

To the Editor of the Herald: 

The Battle of Gettysburg is the decisive battle of this war. It not 
only saved the Capital from invasion, but turned the tide of victory in 
our favor. The opinion of Europe on the failure of the rebellion dates 
from this great conflict. How essential then, that its real history should 
be known. Up to this moment no clear narrative has appeared. The 
sketches of the press, the reports of Generals Halleck and Meade and the 
oration of Mr. Everett give only phases of this terrible struggle, and that 
not very correctly. To supply this hiatus I send you a connected, and I 
hope, lucid review of its main features. I have not ventured to touch 
on the thrilling incidents and affecting details of such a strife, but have 
confined myself to a succinct relation of its principal events and the 
actors therein. My only motive is to vindicate history, do honor to 
the fallen and justice to the survivors when unfairly impeached. 

General Meade took command of the Army of the Potomac, on Sun- 
day, the 28th of June, at Frederick, Maryland. On Monday, as he 
states, the army was put in motion, and by Tuesday night the right 
flank had reached Manchester and the left occupied Emmettsburg. 
General Buford's cavalry had advanced as far as Gettysburg, and re- 
ported that the Confederate army was debouching from the mountains 
on the Cashtown road. Upon this intelligence General Reynolds was 
ordered to advance on Gettysburg with the First and Eleventh corps, 
which he reached early on the 7th of July, and found Buford's cavalry 
already engaged with the enemy — the corps of General Hill. Rapidly 


making his dispositions, General Reynolds joined in the conflict, and soon 
fell mortally wounded. The command of the field then devolved on 
General Howard, of the Eleventh corps, who maintained his position till 
about 2 o'clock p. m., when the enemy was heavily reinforced by the 
arrival of Ewell's corps. The battle now raged fearfully, between Hill's 
and Ewell's corps on one side and the First and Eleventh corps on the 
other, till about 4 p. m., when General Howard was compelled to yield to 
the superior numbers of the enemy and fall back, losing many prisoners — 
nearly four thousand — to the South side of Gettysburg. His position 
was eminently critical, when, to the great relief of both the General and 
our valiant troops, a division of the Third corps, under the immediate 
command of General Sickles, arrived, and the fighting for that day was 
at an end. It should be mentioned that the Third corps was stationed 
at Emmettsburg, by order of General Meade, with a view to protect 
that important point; but information continuing to reach General 
Sickles that the First and Eleventh Corps were in great danger, 1 he de- 
cided to assume the grave responsibility of moving to their relief without 
orders. Leaving two brigades at Emmettsburg, he made a forced march 
of ten miles, in spite of the heat and dust, in three hours, and had the 
satisfaction to be hailed by General Howard on his reaching the field 
with the flattering phrase, "Here you are, — always reliable, always first" 
— A generous tribute from one soldier to another. General Slocum, 
of the First [Twelfth] corps, had arrived a short time before, but his 
corps was then some four miles distant. In the early part of the evening 
(Wednesday) a conference of the leading generals took place, when some 
insisted on falling back towards Taneytown, while others urged the expe- 
diency of maintaining their present position, as offering rare advantages 
for the inevitable and decisive contest that must occur on the following 
day. It appears that General Meade had issued a circular (of which I 
saw several copies) on the morning of Wednesday, July 1, to all his com- 
manders, stating that his advance had accomplished all the objects con- 
templated — namely, the relief of Harrisburg and Philadelphia — and 
that he would now desist altogether from the offensive. He proposed 
to post the whole army in line of battle on Pipe Creek, the right flank 
resting on Manchester and the left on Middleburg, involving a new 
change of front, and there await the movements of the enemy. The posi- 
tion which General Meade had selected for the final struggle between the 
two armies was some fifteen miles distant from Gettysburg, where fate 
willed that it should occur. Whether this important circular ordering him 
to fall back reached the lamented Reynolds before he became engaged at 
Gettysburg it is difficult to say. It could not have failed to reach General 
Sickles, but he happily determined to push on to the rescue of the First 
and Eleventh corps, already engaged. It is strange that General Meade 

1 Besides numerous reports, the following brief communication reached me, 
which accidentally fell into my hands: — "July 1, Gettysburg, General Sickles: — 
General Doubleday, (First corps) says for God's sake come up with all speed, 
they are pressing us hard. 

"H. T. Lee, Lt., A. D. C." 


should make no mention in his report of this singular and most important 
fact: That he issued a plan of campaign on Wednesday, July 1, directing 
his whole army to retire and take up the defensive on Pipe Creek almost 
at the moment that his left flank was fiercely struggling with the right 
wing of the enemy. This proves how often the plans of a general are 
frustrated by unlooked for contingencies. 

General Meade broke up his headquarters at Taneytown, as he states, 
at eleven p. m. on Wednesday, and reached Gettysburg at one A. m. 
Thursday, July 2. Early in the morning he set to work examining the 
position of the various army corps. It is hardly true to say that he 
imitated the example of all prudent commanders on the eve of the battle 
and made a complete survey of the ground he occupied. 

It was on these occasions that the genius of the First Napoleon re- 
vealed itself; for at a glance he saw the advantages of his own position 
and the assailable point of the enemy. It seems that General Lee was 
somewhat more astute than Meade in this; for in his report he states 
what he deemed "the most favorable point " for his attack. "In front 
of General Longstreet" (opposite our left wing), Lee remarks, "the 
enemy held a position from which, if he could be driven, it was thought 
our army could be used to advantage in assailing the more elevated 
ground beyond and thus enable us to reach the crest of the ridge. That 
officer, then, was directed to carry this position." It is plain enough 
that Lee regarded the point where our left was posted as the key to our 
position, and if that could be taken from us our defeat was inevitable. 
It is not to be supposed that General Meade refused to see this, but as 
he makes no mention of it in his report I propose, for the sake of the 
future historian of the battle to tell what I know about it. 

Near this important ground was posted the valiant Third corps, and 
its commander, General Sickles, saw at once how necessary it was to 
occupy the elevated ground in his front towards the Emmettsburg road, 
and to extend his lines to the commanding eminence, known as the 
Roundtop, or Sugarloaf Hill. Unless this were done the left and rear 
of our army would be in the greatest danger. Sickles concluded that no 
time was to be lost, as he observed the enemy massing large bodies of 
troops on their right (our left). Receiving no orders, and filled with 
anxiety, he reported in person to General Meade and urged the advance 
he deemed so essential. "Oh," said Meade, "generals are apt to look 
for the attack to be made where they are." Whether this was a jest or 
a sneer Sickles did not stop to consider, but begged Meade to go over 
the ground with him instantly, but the commander-in-chief declined this 
on account of other duties. Yielding, however to the prolonged solici- 
tations of Sickles, General Meade desired General Hunt, chief of artillery, 
to accompany Sickles and report the result of their reconnoissance. 
Hunt concurred with Sickles as to the line to be occupied — the advance 
line from the left of the Second corps to Roundtop Hill — but he declined 
to give any orders until he had reported to General Meade, remark- 
ing, however, that he (General Sickles) would doubtless receive orders 


Two p. M. came, and yet no orders. Why was this? Other orders 
than those expected by General Sickles were, it appears, in preparation at 
headquarters. It has since been stated, upon unquestionable authority, 
that General Meade had decided upon a retreat, and that an order to 
withdraw from the position held by our enemy was penned by his chief 
of staff, General Butterfield, though happily its promulgation never took 
place. This order is probably on record in the Adjutant General's Office. 

Meanwhile the enemy's columns were moving rapidly around to our 
left and rear. These facts were again reported to headquarters, but 
brought no response. Buford's cavalry had been massed on the left, 
covering that flank with outposts, and videttes were thrown forward on 
the Emmettsburg road. While waiting the expected orders Sickles made 
good use of his time in levelling all the fences and stone walls, so as to 
facilitate the movements of his troops and to favor the operations of the 
cavalry. What, then, was the surprise of Sickles to see of a sudden all 
the cavalry withdrawn, leaving his flank entirely exposed. He sent an 
earnest remonstrance to General Meade, whose reply was that he did 
not intend to withdraw the cavalry, and that a part of this division 
(Buford) should be sent back. It never returned. Under these cir- 
cumstances Sickles threw forward three regiments of light troops as 
skirmishers and for outpost duty. The critical moment had now ar- 
rived. The enemy's movements indicated their purpose to seize Round- 
top Hill, and its entire position. General Longstreet would have had easy 
work in coming up our left wing. To prevent this disaster Sickles waited 
no longer for orders from General Meade, but directed General Hobart 
Ward's brigade and Smith's battery (Fourth New York) to secure that 
available position, and at the same time advance on his line of battle 
about three hundred yards, so as to hold the crest in his front. He 
extended his left to support Ward and cover the threatened rear of the 

These dispositions were made in the very face of the enemy, who 
were advancing in columns of attack, and Sickles dreaded lest the con- 
flict should open before his dispositions were completed. At this junct- 
ure he was summoned to report in person at headquarters to attend a 
council of corps commanders. His preparations were of such moment 
to the attack so near that General Sickles delayed attending the council, 
while giving all of his attention to the carrying out of his orders. A 
second peremptory summons came from General Meade, and, leaving his 
unfinished task to the active supervision of General Birney and General 
Humphreys, Sickles rode off to the rear to headquarters. Before he 
had reached there the sound of cannon announced that the battle had 
begun. Hastening rapidly on, he was met by General Meade at the 
door of his headquarters, who said, " General, I will not ask you to dis- 
mount, the enemy are engaging your fronts, the council is over." It was 
an unfortunate moment, as it proved, for a council of war. Sickles, put- 
ting spurs to his horse, flew back to his command, and, finding that 
Graham's brigade was in advance as far as he desired, he was pushing 
that brigade and a battery forward about one hundred yards, when 


General Meade at length arrived on the field. The following colloquy 
ensued, which I gathered from several officers present: "Are you not 
too much extended, General," said Meade. "Can you hold this front? " 
"Yes," replied Sickles, "until more troops are brought up, the enemy 
are attacking in force, and I shall need support." General Meade then 
let drop some remark, showing that his mind was still wavering as to 
the extent of the ground covered by the Third corps. Sickles replied, 
" General, I have received no orders. I have made these dispositions to 
the best of my judgment. Of course I shall be happy to modify them ac- 
cording to your views." "No," said Meade, "I will send you the Fifth 
corps, and you may send for support from the Second corps." " I shall 
need more artillery," added Sickles. "Send for all you want," replied 
Meade, "to the artillery reserve. I will direct General Hunt to send 
you all you ask for." The conference was then abruptly terminated by 
a heavy shower of shells. Sickles received no further orders that day. 
There is no doubt I may venture to add, that Sickles' line was too much 
extended for the number of troops under his command, but his great aim 
was to prevent the enemy getting down his flank to the Roundtop 
alluded to. This was worth the risk, in his opinion, of momentarily 
weakening his lines. The contest now going on was of the most fierce 
and sanguinary description. The entire right wing of the enemy was 
concentrated on the defeated Third corps, for the object of Lee, as he 
states, was "to carry" the ground which Sickles occupied, and which 
both generals evidently regarded as of the highest importance. While 
this terrific combat was raging on our left, Lee ordered Ewell " to attack" 
our right wing and Hill to threaten our centre, both with the object, as 
he says in his report, " to divert reinforcements from reaching our left," 
which, as we have seen, Longstreet was " directed to carry." Well may 
General Meade in his report say : " The Third corps sustained the shock 
most heroically, and he reached the disputed point just in time to pre- 
vent its falling into the enemy's hands. Considering our force unequal 
to the exigency, Sickles called on the heroic troops of the Second corps, 
for support, and they gave it with a will. The struggle now became 
deadly. The columns of Longstreet charged with reckless fury upon 
our troops, but they were met with a valor and stern fortitude that defied 
their utmost efforts. An alarming incident, however, occurred. Barnes' 
division, of the Fifth corps, suddenly gave way, and Sickles, seeing this, 
put a battery in position to check the enemy if he broke through this 
gap on our front, and General Birney was sent to order Barnes back 
into line. "No," he said, "impossible. It is too hot. My men cannot 
stand it." Remonstrance was unavailing, and Sickles despatched his 
aides to bring up any troops they met to fill this blank. Major Tremaine, 
of his staff, fell in with General Zook at the head of his brigade (Sec- 
ond corps), and this gallant officer instantly volunteered to take Barnes' 
place. When they reached the ground Barnes' disordered troops impeded 
the advance of the brigade. "If you can't get out of the way," cried 
Zook, "lie down and I will march over you." Barnes ordered his men 
to lie down, and the chivalric Zook and his splendid brigade, under the 


personal direction of General Birney, did march over them and right 
into the breach. Alas! poor Zook soon fell, mortally wounded, and 
half of his brigade perished with him: it was about this time — near 
seven p. m. — that Sickles was struck by a cannon ball that tore off his 
right leg, and he was borne from the field. 

It was now pretty clear that General Meade had awakened to the 
fact which he treated with such indifference when pressed on him by 
Sickles in the morning — that our left was the assailable point, if not 
the key to our position, for he began to pour in reinforcements, whose 
presence in the beginning of the action, would have saved thousands of 
lives. "Perceiving great exertions on the part of the enemy, " says 
Meade's report, "the Sixth corps (Sedgwick's) and part of the First 
corps (Newton's) Lockwood's Maryland Brigade, together with detach- 
ments from the Second corps, were all brought up at different periods, 
and succeeded, together with the gallant resistance of the Fifth corps, in 
checking and finally repulsing the assault of the enemy, who retired in 
confusion and disorder about sunset, and ceased any further efforts." 
If this remarkable concentration of troops was necessary, at last, to save 
the left of our army, it is almost incredible that the single corps of Gen- 
eral Sickles was able to withstand the impetuous onset of Longstreet's 
legions for nearly an hour before any succor reached it. 

On Friday, July 3, the enemy renewed their efforts to carry out the 
original design of Lee, by overthrowing our left wing, and Longstreet 
was reinforced by Pickett's three brigades, and further supported by one 
division and two brigades from Hill's corps. 

In addition to this heavy mass of infantry the entire artillery of the 
rebel army was concentrated against our left. After his oversight of 
the day, it may be supposed that General Meade was better prepared to 
defend his left, and had made adequate preparations. About one p. M. 
the enemy opened a furious cannonade upon our left and left centre, which 
continued some two hours, with occasional responses from us. At about 
three p. m. the enemy moved forward in columns, and once more essayed 
to carry our position on the left. It was during this conflict that General 
Hancock, commander of the Second corps, a gallant soldier and accom- 
plished officer, was wounded by a musket ball and obliged to retire. He 
contributed greatly by his energy and valor to the success of the day. 
Meanwhile our artillery opened with vigor and inflicted great damage. 
After a severe and prolonged struggle the enemy at length fell back and 
abandoned the contest. "Owing to the strength of the enemy's posi- 
tion," says Lee's report, "and the reduction of our ammunition, a 
* renewal of the engagement could not be hazarded." Hence it is plain 
that our good fortune in preserving our position on the left gave us the 
victory at Gettysburg, and yet General Meade, not having sufficiently 
examined the ground before the battle, disregarded the repeated warn- 
ings of the sagacious officer, General Sickles, as well as the report of his 
own general of artillery, General Hunt, who concurred in all the sug- 
gestions of the commander of the Third corps. Without meaning to do 
injustice to General Meade, it must be admitted that his report of this 


great battle is at such variance with all the statements which have 
appeared in the press, that it is due not only to history, but to the 
indomitable prowess of our heroic army, that every fact sustained by 
concurrent testimony should be given in order to fully establish the 
truth. I reserve for any suitable occasion, abundant documentary evi- 
dence to support the facts furnished. 

On Saturday, July 4, both armies continued to face each other during 
the entire day, without either manifesting a disposition to attack. 
"The enemy/' says Meade, "drew back his left flank, but maintained 
his position in front of our left," as if always conscious that our vulnerable 
point was there, and they were loth to retire from it. On the night of 
the 4th, Lee, finding his ammunition exhausted and his subsistence 
imperilled, decided to withdraw, and he began his retreat towards 
Williamsport, with four thousand of our prisoners and all his immense 
trains. On the morning of the 5th this event became known, and 
General Meade despatched the Sixth corps in pursuit, together with 
some squadrons of cavalry. " The 5th and 6th of July were employed," 
says Meade's report, "in succoring the wounded and burying the dead." 
The enemy made good use of all this precious time in pushing on towards 
Williamsport, as rapidly as possible, and it was fortunate for them that 
detachments were not detailed for these solemn and affecting duties, and 
that our whole army was not launched in prompt and eager pursuit. 
They were burdened by heavy trains filled with plunder, without ammu- 
nition, and wofully demoralized. Had the half of our army, flushed with 
success, fallen on them in flank or rear, or anywhere or anyhow, General 
Lee might have got across the Potomac, but his army never. "The 
trains, with the wounded and prisoners," says Lee's report, "were com- 
pelled to await at Williamsport (about the 8th of July) the subsiding of 
the river and the construction of boats. * * * the enemy had not yet 
made his appearance." The rebel army must have trembled with 
anxiety lest the dreaded Yankees should heave in sight before they could 
escape from the swollen Potomac, which Providence seemed to have des- 
tined as the place of their surrender. It was not until the 12th of July 
that our army, too long delayed, came up, but, unfortunately, the enemy 
had nearly finished their preparations for flight. " An attack," says Lee, 
"was awaited during that and the succeeding day. This did not take 
place, though the two armies were in close proximity." Why it did not 
take place the country has never yet understood. General Meade in his 
report gives no explanation. The press of the day stated that General 
Meade again held councils of war at this supreme moment, and that 
several of his generals opposed following on the crippled enemy. All we 
know is that Lee, having completed his preparations, slipped quietly 
over the river on the morning of the 14th. " The crossing was not com- 
pleted until one p. m.," says Lee, "when the bridge was removed. The 
enemy offered no serious interruption, and the movement was continued 
with no loss of material except a few disabled wagons and two pieces of 
artillery, which the horses were unable to drag through the deep mud." 
It seems that General Meade and the recalcitrant members of the coun- 


cil of war finally made up their minds to attack. " Before advancing on 
the morning of the 14th/' reports General Meade, "it was ascertained he 
(the enemy) had retired the night previous by the bridge at Falling 
Waters and the ford at Williamsport." 

In striking confirmation of the sketch now given of this important 
battle it may be interesting to quote a few brief extracts from the diary 
of a British officer who was a guest of General Lee during the campaign 
in Pennsylvania, and which was published in Blackwood's Magazine 
in September last. The writer was an eye-witness of the battle of 
Gettysburg, and the hearty praise he lavishes upon the confederate 
troops and their generals, shows that all his sympathies were with the 
South, and he takes no pains to conceal his prejudices against the North. 
Speaking of the moment when the columns of Longstreet had been finally 
repulsed by our left on Friday afternoon, July 3, he says * * * " It is 
difficult to exaggerate the critical state of affairs as they appeared about 
this time. If the enemy or his general had shown any enterprise, there 
is no saying what might have happened. General Longstreet talked to 
me," he narrates, "for a long time about the battle. The General said 
the mistake Lee had made was in not concentrating the army more and 
making the attack with 30,000 men — 12- instead of 10,000. It is impos- 
sible to avoid seeing," adds the English officer, "that the cause of this 
check to the confederates lies in their utter contempt for the enemy." 
He continues: "Wagons, horses, mules and cattle captured in Penn- 
sylvania — the solid advantages of this campaign — have been passing 
slowly along the»road (Fairfield) all day (July 4). So interminable was 
this train that it soon became evident that we should not be able to 
start. As soon as it became dark we all lay around a big fire. And I 
heard reports coming in from the different generals that the enemy was 
retiring, and had been doing so all day long. But this, of course, could 
make no difference to General Lee's plans. Ammunition he must have, 
as he had failed to capture it from the enemy according to precedent. 
Our progress," he continues, " was naturally very slow indeed. And we 
took eight hours to go so many miles." 

I will close these extracts with the following graphic sketch of a 
"stampede" which occurred on Monday, July 6, about seven p. M., but 
which demonstrates most unequivocally the utter demoralization of the 
Confederate army: 

"About seven p. m.," the writer states, "we rode through Hagers- 
town, in the streets of which were several dead horses and a few dead 
men. After proceeding about a mile beyond the town we halted, and 
General Longstreet sent four cavalrymen up a lane, with directions to 
report everything they saw. We then dismounted and lay down. 
About ten minutes later (being nearly dark) we heard a sudden rush — 
a panic — and then a regular stampede ensued, in the midst of which I 
descried our four cavalry heroes crossing a field as fast as they could 
gallop. All was now complete confusion — officers mounting their horses 
and pursuing those which had got loose, and soldiers climbing over fences 
for protection against the supposed advancing Yankees. In the midst 


of the din I heard an artillery officer saying to his cannoniers to stand by 
him and plant the guns in a proper position for enfillading the lane. I 
also distinguished Longstreet walking about, bustled by the excited 
crowd, and remarking, in angry tones, which could scarcely be heard, and 
to which no attention was paid, 'Now, you don't know what it is — 
you don't know what it is.' While the row and confusion were at its 
height the object of all this alarm at length emerged from the dark lane, 
in the shape of a domestic four-wheeled carriage, with a harmless lot of 
females. The stampede had, however, spread, increased in the rear, and 
caused much harm and delay." 

It is to be hoped that the above narrative will be regarded as dis- 
passionate, as it is meant to be impartial. Some slight errors may have 
crept in, but this may possibly stimulate others to come forward with a 
rectification. Had General Meade been more copious in his report and 
less reserved as to his own important acts, the necessity for this com- 
munication would not have existed. 



182, VOL. II 

(For article signed "Historicus," see Appendix J) 

(New York Herald, March 18, 1864) 



To the Editor of the Herald: 

In your paper of the 12th instant "Historicus" favors the world with 
an immense letter on the battle of Gettysburg. It is so manifestly in- 
tended to create public opinion that few will attach to it the importance 
the writer hopes. I wish to correct some of his misstatements, and, hav- 
ing been an eye-witness, claim to be both heard and believed. 

First — The Fifth corps was never placed under the orders of General 
Sickles at any time during the battle of Gettysburg and never was posted 
by General Sickles on the left of the Third corps. 

Second — General Sykes was never requested to relieve Ward's 
brigade and Smith's battery on Roundtop for the very good reason that 
neither that brigade nor that battery was on Roundtop; and what is 
undeniable, was held by Vincent's brigade, First division, Fifth Corps; 
Weed's brigade, Second division, Fifth corps, and Hazlett's battery of 
regular artillery. Each of these commanders lost his life in its defence. 


Third — Two brigades of Barnes's division (First), Fifth corps, were 
posted on the edge of a wood, and in front of a portion of the Third corps 
(Ward's brigade) before any musketry firing began; so that the hour's 
conflict sustained by the Third corps before the Fifth Corps came up 
has no existence. 

Fourth — General Crawford's troops, Fifth corps, were thrown into 
action by order of the corps commander, not by any order of General 
Sickles, or by any solicitation of Captain Moore, of General Sickles's staff. 

Fifth— The left of the Third corps was far in advance of Roundtop, 
and did not connect with it in any way. 

Sixth — The imminent danger of losing Roundtop resulted, not from 
the failure to relieve Ward's brigade, which was not there, but from an 
order of General Sickles, taking Weed's brigade from that hill to assist 
the Third corps, and Weed, in obeying this order, was met by his corps 
commander, and promptly returned to his position on the hill, just in 
time to assist in repelling Longstreet's attack. 

Seventh — When a dispassionate writer seats himself to bolster up 
one officer at the expense of others, neither "hearsay evidence" nor 
"slight errors" should have a place in his narrative. Unadulterated 
truth should stamp its every assertion. 

A Staff Officer of the Fifth Corps. 


TER OF MARCH 22, 1864. SEE PAGE 182, VOL. II 

(For article signed "Historicus," see Appendix J) 

(New York Herald, March 21, 1864) 


To the Editor of the Herald: 

Washington, March 16, 1864. 

In the New York Herald of the 12th inst., a communication over the 
signature of "Historicus" purports to give the account of an "Eye-Wit- 
ness" of the battle of Gettysburg, and the reason for it assigned that 
up to this time no clear narrative of it has appeared. 

I desire to call attention to that portion of it which pretends to relate 
certain events in connection with the part taken by the Fifth Corps in 
that engagement, and particularly to what the writer refers to as an 
"alarming incident" occurring in the First division of that corps, which 
I had the honor to command. He says: — 

" An alarming incident, however, occurred. Barnes' division of the 
Fifth Corps suddenly gave way, and Sickles, seeing this, put a battery 


in position to check the enemy if he broke through this gap on our front, 
and General Birney was sent to order Barnes back into line. 'No/ 
he said, 'impossible. It is too hot, my men cannot stand it/ Re- 
monstrance was unavailing, and Sickles despatched his aides to bring up 
any troops they met to fill this blank. Major Tremaine, of his staff, 
fell in with General Zook at the head of his brigade (Second corps), and 
this gallant officer instantly volunteered to take Barnes' place. When 
they reached the ground Barnes' disordered troops impeded the advance 
of the brigade. 'If you can't get out of the way,' cried Zook, 'lie 
down and I will march over you.' Barnes ordered his men to lie down, 
and the chivalrous Zook and his splendid brigade, under the personal 
direction of General Birney, did march over them and right into the 
breach. Alas! poor Zook soon fell mortally wounded, and half his 
brigade perished with him." 

All this is pure invention. No such occurrence as is here related took 
place. There is not a particle of truth in it. No order was given to me 
by General Birney. None was received by me through any one from 
General Sickles. I did not see or hear from General Zook. I did not 
meet him in any way. I did not know he was there, and the article 
above referred to is the first intimation that I have had that any one 
pretended that any such event took place. There was no order to ad- 
vance — no refusal; no orders to lie down given to the command by me 
or by any one else to my knowledge; no passing over my command (I 
should be sorry to see any body of men attempt to do such a thing in 
my division) ; nothing of the kind occurred that ever came to my knowl- 
edge, and I think I should have heard of such a thing before this late 
day if it, or anything like it, had taken place; the whole story is untrue 
in every particular, and my astonishment at now hearing of such a thing 
for the first time may possibly be imagined. 

So much for that portion of the article above quoted. 

In reference to other criticisms of the movements of the Fifth corps, 
it may perhaps properly devolve on others to refer to them. I shall only 
add a few words as to what the First division of that corps did do. 

Upon receiving the orders to move to the front, the First division, 
composed of three brigades, was promptly in motion. In about fifteen 
minutes it reached the ground which it was ordered to occupy, to the 
left of the Third corps. General Sykes, commanding the Fifth corps, 
and myself, reached the ground in advance of the head of the col- 
umn, and the position to be occupied by my division was determined 

As soon as the head of the column came up General Warren rode up 
in haste and earnestly requested General Sykes to permit a brigade to 
be sent to Round Top — a high elevation upon the left, not far from us — 
and urged the importance of holding that position. 

Although separating one of my brigades from the remaining two, one 
of which was already weakened by the detachment of a Regiment — the 
Ninth Massachusetts — as skirmishers in another part of the field, yet, 
yielding to the emergency which was apparent, General Sykes con- 


sented, and I immediately directed the Third brigade, then under the 
command of the late much lamented General Strong Vincent (who fell 
mortally wounded within an hour of receiving the order) to proceed in 
that direction. The Second brigade arrived next under the command of 
Colonel Sweitzer, who immediately placed his brigade in position. The 
1st brigade, under the command of Colonel Til ton, was posted on the 
right of Colonel Sweitzer, being the right of the division and on the right 
of the position of the Fifth corps, the other two divisions of the corps 
extending to and embracing the celebrated Round Top. 

The five corps therefore occupied what may well be called the post 
of honor of that day, and, as the result proved, well deserved that proud 

In passing to their positions it was necessary for the two brigades 
of my division to cross an open piece of ground in a thick wood, at the 
entrance of which a portion of the three corps, commanded by General 
Birney, was lying upon the ground. My brigades, advancing over and 
beyond these men a considerable distance, took the position assigned 
them upon the opposite edge of the wood, nearest to the enemy. They 
were all in place before the engagement commenced in their front. An 
open and gently ascending ground upon the right seemed to be unguarded. 
To the right of this open space the remaining portion of the Third corps 
was posted. General Sykes observing this, remarked that that portion 
of the three corps now lying down in our rear would be soon relieved. 
The engagement commenced immediately and with great severity. 
The gap upon my right was still unoccupied. The First brigade was 
violently assailed in front and stood its ground without flinching, and 
soon after the fight became general along the whole of my front. Soon, 
however, the enemy, working his way through the gap upon my right, 
came down in large force upon my flank and rear. 

Under these circumstances I was obliged to change my front to the 
right; the order was given, promptly executed in good order, and the 
further progress of the enemy in that direction was prevented. 

Colonel Til ton in his official report says : — " In this last movement I 
was greatly embarrassed by squads of men and parts of regiments, who, 
hurrying from the front, broke into and through my lines. I retired, 
firing a short distance in the timber and took up a new position upon the 
right of the two divisions. All my officers and men did their duty, their 
whole duty, and showed the greatest coolness and courage." 

Colonel Sweitzer in his official report says: — "The enemy were getting 
into our rear in the woods behind us on the right. I directed these regi- 
ments to change front, to face in that direction and meet them, which 
they did. I do not intend to go into the further details of these move- 
ments, or ascribe any blame to others or to fix any responsibility upon 
any one for any error which led to so threatening a danger to the flank 
and rear of my division. I only design to show that the orderly move- 
ment of my command, rendered imperative by the circumstances in 
which it was placed, prevented any further advance of the enemy upon 
my flank, notwithstanding the imminent danger to which it was exposed 


by the unfortunate gap upon my right between portions of the Third 

It may have been simply anxiety, it may have been some other affec- 
tion of the mind in the midst of the danger so apparent which prevented 
this "eye-witness," if he were one, upon whose narrative I am comment- 
ing from distinguishing between an orderly and a disorderly movement. 

It is not absolutely necessary to attribute it to a desire to misrepresent. 
The motives and the object of the narrative must be judged by its gen- 
eral tenor. He has presented to the public what he claims to be a true 
and only correct account of the celebrated battle of Gettysburg. 

So far as I am able to judge, and I saw something of the movements 
of that day, I think it filled with errors, detracting from the merits of 
some and exalting the moderate claims of others to a ridiculous excess. 

James Barnes, 
Brigadier General United States Vols. Commanding Second 
Division j Fifth Corps, at the Battle of Gettysburg. 



(For article signed " Historicus," see Appendix J) 

Headquarters, Army of the Potomac, March 15, 1864. 
Col. E. D. Townsend, 

A. A. G. Washington, D. C. 

I enclose herewith a slip from the New York Herald of the 12th inst., 
containing a communication signed "Historicus," purporting to give an 
account of the battle of Gettysburg to which I desire to call the atten- 
tion of the War Department — and ask such action thereon as may be 
deemed proper and suitable. 

For the past fortnight the public press of the whole country has been 
teeming with articles, all having for their object assaults upon my repu- 
tation as an officer, and tending to throw discredit upon my operations 
at Gettysburg and my official report of the same. I have not noticed 
any of these attacks and should not now take action, but that the char- 
acter of the communication enclosed bears such manifest proofs that it 
was written either by some one present at the battle, or dictated by some 
one present and having access not only to official documents, but to con- 
fidential papers that were never issued to the Army, much less made 

I cannot resist the belief that this letter was either written or dictated 
by Major General D. E. Sickles. An issue has been raised between that 
officer and myself, in regard to the judgment displayed by him in the 


position he took with his corps at Gettysburg. In my official report I 
deemed it proper to state that this position was a false and untenable 
one, but I did General Sickles the justice to express the opinion that 
altho' he had committed an error of judgment, it was done through a 
misapprehension of his orders and not from any intention to act contrary 
to my wishes. The prominence given to General Sickles' operations in 
the enclosed communication, the labored argument to prove his good 
judgment and my failings, all lead me to the conclusion he is either indi- 
rectly or directly the author. 

As the communication contains so many statements prejudicial to my 
reputation, I feel called upon to ask the interposition of the Department, 
as I desire to consider the questions raised purely official. I therefore 
have to ask, that the Department will take steps to ascertain whether 
Major General Sickles has authorized or endorses this communication, 
and in the event of his replying in the affirmative I have to request of the 
President of the U. S. a court of inquiry that the whole subject may be 
thoroughly investigated and the truth made known. Should this court 
not be deemed advisable, any other action the Department may deem 
proper I desire should be taken, and should the Department decline any 
action, then I desire authority to make use of and publish such official 
documents, as, in my judgment, are necessary for my defense. 

I am, Very respectfully 
Your obt. servant 

Geo. G. Meade 

Major General ComrrCdg. 



Executive Mansion, Washington, March 29, 1864. 
Major General Meade. 
My dear Sir : 

Your letter to Col. Townsend, inclosing a slip from the Herald, 
and asking a Court of Inquiry, has been laid before me by the Secretary 
of War, with the request that I would consider it. It is quite natural that 
you should feel some sensibility on the subject; yet I am not impressed, 
nor do I think the country is impressed, with the belief that your honor 
demands, or the public interest demands, such an Inquiry. The coun- 
try knows that, at all events, you have done good services; and I believe 
it agrees with me that it is much better for you to be engaged in trying 
to do more, than to be diverted, as you necessarily would be, by a Court 
of Inquiry. 

Yours truly, 

A. Lincoln. 





1864. SEE PAGE 188, VOL. II 
(For first article signed "Historicus," see Appendix J. For article by General 

Barnes, see Appendix L. For article by "A Staff Officer of the Fifth 

Corps," see Appendix K) 

(New York Herald, April 4, 1864) 


in reply to general barnes and the staff officers of the second 
and fifth corps. the evidence before the committee on the 
conduct of the war, &c. 

To the Editor of the Herald. 

In your journal of the 12th ult. I gave an impartial and conscientious 
sketch of the battle of Gettysburg. Regarding it as the decisive battle 
of the war, I thought it wise to put its main features on record while the 
facts were familiar and the principal actors at hand. 

I challenged criticism; and three replies have appeared, accusing me, 
not only of inaccuracy, but downright misstatement. This induced me 
to redouble my researches, as my only motive was to aid the future 
historian of this great event. 

To my satisfaction more than to my surprise, I find that not only 
was the outline of my picture correct but nearly every detail and inci- 
dent exact. I stated, it may be remembered, that the left wing of our 
army, under the command of General Sickles was selected by General 
Lee as his report shows for the main point of his attack. I stated, also, 
that whilst this formidable attack was preparing all the morning of 
Thursday, July 2, General Sickles was left without orders, in spite of 
his urgent entreaties to the Commander-in-Chief, General Meade. I 
stated, likewise, that during this fearful interval, instead of being occu- 
pied with the steady advance of the enemy, General Meade was entirely 
engrossed with the plans for a retreat that General Butterfield, his 
Chief of Staff, was employed in drawing up, and that just at the moment 
the general order for retreat was prepared, the cannon of Longstreet 
opened on our left wing, under Sickles. I stated, further, that, as re- 
treat was now hopeless, General Meade galloped up to our left flank and 
inspected the dispositions General Sickles had made on his own respon- 
sibility to repel the enemy, when the following colloquy ensued, which 
I repeat in epitome : — " Are your lines not too extended, General Sickles? " 
said the Commander-in-Chief. "Can you hold this front?" "Yes," 
replied Sickles, " till more troops are sent up." " I will send you the 
Fifth corps and a division of the Second corps and you can have all the 


artillery you need." I stated finally, that the Third corps, constituting 
our left wing at the beginning of the battle, withstood "heroically," to 
use General Meade's expression, the furious onset of Longstreet for nearly 
an hour before the reinforcements promised to Sickles, by the Com- 
mander-in-Chief arrived and took their part in the dreadful fray. Now, 
I appeal to your readers when I ask what one of these statements, 
describing the beginning of the action, or any other portraying the con- 
test of Friday, July 3, as well as the inglorious failure of General Meade 
to profit by his victory in pursuing and destroying the enemy, has been 
disproved or controverted by the anonymous communications pub- 
lished in reply? Not one. Allow me briefly to notice them. 

The first evidently emanates from a champion of the Second corps, 
whose task was gratuitous; for it was far from my intention to disparage 
by a single word, the valiant troops of the Second corps or their gallant 
commander. The writer in question is deeply offended that General 
Sickles figured so conspicuously in the fight of July 2; but that is no 
fault of mine. The blame, if any, is to be attributed to the eagerness 
and activity of General Sickles. The said writer, however, makes one 
charge so grave that it demands refutation. He declares that Sickles 
advanced his corps so far away from his supports, on his right and left, 
as to cost the lives of these three thousand men to extricate him. He 
calls this a "sad error and an unaccountable one." Yes, it would have 
been an error for which General Sickles would have been immediately 
cashiered if he had committed it, the aspersion is preposterous. What 
General Sickles did do was to make a simple manoeuvre which the move- 
ments of the enemy required. He changed his front to the left by 
wheeling forward the centre and right wing of his corps so as to confront 
the flank attack of Longstreet. No military critic would call this an 
advance. If he had not done this he would have been cut to pieces by 
an enfilading fire, and the safety of the army might have been compro- 
mised. Furthermore, it would have been difficult for General Sickles, 
at the moment in question, to abandon the support on his left for the 
obvious reason that he had none; for the Fifth corps, which afterwards 
took up position on his left, was not there when he changed front. So 
much for " Another Eye- Witness." 

The second reply which appeared in your columns is signed by a 
"Staff Officer of the Fifth Corps" and he indulges in a series of such 
reckless assertions as to show that neither his temper any more than his 
memory, if he was at the battle, qualified him for the task of rectification. 
He first denies that General Sykes reported to General Sickles on the 
field. Then General Sykes failed in his duty; for he was ordered by 
General Meade to do so. Let me vindicate Sykes, however; for he did 
report, and Sickles requested him to take position on his left, and also 
to relieve General Ward's brigade and Smith's Battery on the Little 
Roundtop Mountain. Again, the "Staff Officer" asserts that the Third 
corps never had a soldier on the Roundtop. This is true enough for 
Ward's Brigade and Smith's Battery (Third corps was posted on the 
I4ttle Roundtop, adjoining the Big Roundtop Mountain). This is a 


mere quibble and unworthy of the gravity of the subject. I reassert 
that it was nearly an hour after the battle began before the Fifth corps 
reached the Big Roundtop; and it required all this time to march the 
distance. The desperate valor of the troops of this corps in defence of 
their position not only covers them with honor but sheds glory on the 
army and country. Three accomplished officers — Vincent, Weed and 
Hazlett, of the Fifth corps — consecrated the spot by their heroic deaths. 
With a view to mislead the public the "Staff Officer" coolly asserts that 
Barnes , division of the Fifth corps, was posted in front of a portion of 
Sickles' corps, but, forgetting this, he soon afterward states that "the 
left of Third corps (Sickles') was far in advance of the Roundtop," occu- 
pied by the Fifth corps. This is a ludicrous contradiction I will not dwell 
on; nor is it necessary to waste time on the blunders of the " Staff Officer." 

A third letter and a long one, has appeared in your columns signed 
"James Barnes, Brigadier General, United States Volunteers command- 
ing 1st division, Fifth corps, at the battle of Gettysburg," which denies 
in obstreperous language the unpleasant charge I felt myself obliged to 
make in my first letter. I narrated that Barnes' Division suddenly fell 
back and left a gap in the line of battle, and that General Birney by 
desire of General Sickles remonstrated at his conduct, but that Barnes 
refused to return to his position. I further declared that Zook's Brigade, 
which came up gallantly to supply the defection of Barnes, marched over 
his troops, who were ordered to lie down for this purpose. As General 
Barnes denies all this roundly, under his own signature, it is proper I 
should give the names of those who cheerfully came forward to corrobo- 
rate in every point the facts I stated. I refer General Barnes, first to the 
letter of General de Trobriand, in the Herald of March 29, where he 
states that a portion of Barnes' division fell back and took position in 
his rear, and that in spite of his remonstrance they finally withdrew 
altogether without being engaged. This confirms what I alleged; but I 
have positive testimony in a private letter from General Birney, which 
he will not object I am sure, to my using. When he saw Barnes with- 
drawing his troops before they had received a shot, he remonstrated at 
Barnes' leaving a dangerous gap in his line, as well as abandoning the 
good position. It was of no avail, for Barnes retired. I copied the fol- 
lowing from General Birney 's letter: — 

"He (Barnes) moved to the rear from three to four hundred yards, 
and formed in the rear of the road which passed from the Emmettsburg 
Road to the Round Top. When Zook's Brigade, the first one brought 
to me, came up, Barnes' troops (being in the way) were, at my request, 
ordered to lie down, and the Brigade from the Second corps passed 
over their prostrate bodies into the fight, under my command, relieving 
de Trobriand's left. A portion of the troops of Barnes were afterwards 
detached and fought splendidly under another commander. I men- 
tioned the conduct of General Barnes to his corps commander General 
Sykes, and also to General Sedgwick, that night, after the Council; and 
Sykes told me that Colonel Sweitzer who commanded one of Barnes* 
Brigades, had reported the same thing." 


This extract must be regarded as conclusive. In final confirmation, 
I may add that General Barnes was relieved of his command after the 
battle and now has been reduced from the commander of a division to a 
brigade. I regret to place General Barnes in so mortifying a position, 
but it is well that both officers and soldiers should know that the eye of 
the country follows them to the battlefield, and that while it sparkles 
with joy at their heroism it is dimmed with sorrow at the want of it. In 
fine, I defy my three assailants to deny that the invincible resistance of 
the Third corps under Sickles, to the determined flank attack of Long- 
street, until the reinforcements arrived, saved the army from imminent 
danger; and no better proof of this is wanted than that it finally took 
the united efforts of the Third, Fifth and four brigades of the Second 
corps to defeat this grand manoeuvre of the enemy, and the result was 
still doubtful until the reserve (the Sixth corps) under General Sedgwick, 
came up. 

It is only due to myself to say that my narrative of the battle of 
Gettysburg, published on the 12th ult. will be fully sustained by the con- 
current testimony of all the generals who have recently appeared before 
the Committee on the Conduct of the War. The evidence of General 
Butterfield, Chief of Staff to General Meade, is known to be so ruinous 
to the reputation of the Commander of the Army of the Potomac that 
it will be a singular indifference to public opinion on the part of the 
government if he is allowed to remain longer in that important post. It 
has been most conclusively proved that nothing was easier than to force 
Lee's whole army to an unconditional surrender at Williamsport, where 
he was without ammunition or subsistence, and the swollen Potomac 
preventing his escape. It was stated that our army was so humiliated 
at the vacillation and timidity of General Meade on this occasion that 
many of them shed tears and talked of throwing down their arms. Yet 
General Meade still commands this noble army, and not only that, but 
he has lately ventured to break up, under shallow pretexts two of its 
finest corps, and dismiss some of its most heroic officers, Pleasanton, 
Sykes and others. It will be an important inquiry for the Committee 
on the Conduct of the War to ascertain by whose influence General 
Meade exercises such arbitrary power. This vital and dangerous act 
was carried out without any consultation with General Grant and may 
we not hope, that for his own sake and the country's sake he will wield 
the authority which belongs to him, else the worst is to be feared. 





(Philadelphia Inquirer, June 2, 1864) 


He is as much the commander of the Army of the Potomac as he 
ever was. Grant plans and exercises a supervisory control over the 
army, but to Meade belongs everything of detail. He is entitled to 
great credit for the magnificent movements of the army since we left 
Brandy, for they have been dictated by him. In battle he puts troops 
in action and controls their movements; in a word, he commands the 
army. General Grant is here only because he deems the present cam- 
paign the vital one of the war, and wishes to decide on the spot all ques- 
tions that would be referred to him as General-in-Chief. 

History will record, but newspapers cannot, that on one eventful 
night during the present campaign Grant's presence saved the army, 
and the nation too; not that General Meade was on the point to com- 
mit a blunder unwittingly, but his devotion to his country made him 
loth to risk her last army on what he deemed a chance. Grant as- 
sumed the responsibility and we are still 




(New York Independent, October 13, 1864) 


The military news of the week covers a wide field. Dispatches of 
considerable interest have been received from the James River, from 
the Shenandoah Valley, from Georgia, from Kentucky, and from Mis- 
souri. The operations in all quarters are important, but the public at- 
tention, as usual, is concentrated upon Virginia, and the movements 
near Richmond have again attracted that regard which the brilliancy of 
Sheridan's victories for the moment diverted to the Shenandoah. 

We are obliged to reverse the opinion of last week as to the operations 
of the Army of the Potomac under Gen. Meade, southwest of Peters- 
burg. The twofold movement which Gen. Grant planned, and which 


ought to have been even a more complete success than we had reckoned 
it, now turns out to have failed from lack of generalship on the left wing. 
North of the James, Gen. Butler carried out his part of the programme 
promptly and thoroughly. South of it "somebody blundered" — Gen. 
Meade, to wit: and the Army of the Potomac, which he is still permitted 
to command, instead of carrying the Southside railroad, as was expected, 
gave up its great opportunity to the clumsiness of its leader. The old, 
old blunder was once more repeated. The Executive Officer of that army 
could not control its maneuvers. The Ninth Corps, proverbially tardy, 
was far behind when the Fifth, under Warren, had reached its appointed 
ground, and between the two occurred that fatal gap, into which the 
enemy again struck with all his force, rolled up an exposed division, capt- 
ured a brigade or two, and then hurried off with his prizes. The advance 
was arrested, the whole movement interrupted, the safety of an army 
imperiled, the plans of the campaign frustrated — and all because one 
general, whose incompetence, indecision, half-heartedness in the war have 
again and again been demonstrated, is still unaccountably to hamper 
and hamstring the purposes of the lieutenant-general. Let us chasten 
our impatient hope of victory so long as Gen. Meade retains his hold 
on the gallant Army of the Potomac; but let us tell the truth of him. 

He is the general who at Gettysburg bore off the laurels which be- 
longed to Howard and to Hancock; who at Williamsport suffered a 
beaten army to escape him; who, when holding the line of the Rapidan, 
fled before Lee without a battle to the gates of the capital; who at Mine 
Run drew back in dismay from a conflict which he had invited and which 
his army longed to convert into triumph; who, in the campaign from the 
Rapidan to the James under Grant, annulled the genius of his chief by 
his own executive incapacity; who lost the prize of Petersburg by martinet 
delay on the south bank of the James; who lost it again in succeeding 
contests by tactical incompetence; who lost it again by inconceivable 
follies of military administration when the mine was exploded; who in- 
sulted his corps commanders and his army by attributing to them that 
inability to co-operate with each other which was traceable solely to 
the unmilitary slovenliness of their general; who, in a word, holds his 
place by virtue of no personal qualification, but in deference to a pre- 
sumed, fictitious, perverted, political necessity, and who hangs upon 
the neck of Gen. Grant like an Old Man of the Sea whom he longs to be 
rid of, and whom he retains solely in deference to the weak complaisance 
of his constitutional Commander-in-Chief. Be other voices muzzled, if 
they must be, ours, at least, shall speak out on this question of enforced 
military subservience to political, to partisan, to personal requisitions. 
We, at least, if no other, may declare in the name of a wronged, baffled, 
indignant army, that its nominal commander is unfit, or unwilling, or 
incapable to lead it to victory, and we ask that Grant's hands may be 
strengthened by the removal of Meade. 

The dispatches of Gen. Butler, wholly confirmed by one from Gen. 
Grant, show that he has maintained the line heretofore gained on the 
north of the James. Lee assaulted in force on Friday last, and carried a 


picket defended only by cavalry, but was utterly repulsed and driven off 
with heavy loss in attempting to recover the position held by Butler's 
infantry. The loss on our side was one-eighth that of the enemy, and the 
gain to us was greater than can be numerically stated; for the assault 
proves two things. First, that the line Butler has occupied is a severe 
loss to the enemy; and, second, that, although Lee is forced to assume 
the offensive with his attenuated army in order to regain this line, he 
cannot carry the coveted position. Butler is within four miles of Rich- 
mond. We privately hear the rebel works which he now holds described 
as more formidable than any before taken from them; and they are held 
in an iron grasp ! 

The truth is, Grant presses with irresistible steadiness toward the 
rebel capital. Richmond is undergoing a relentless siege. Attacks from 
our side and sallies from theirs meet with varying fortune, but the ad- 
vance, the pressure, the average of advantage is wholly with Gen. Grant, 
and he has never once relinquished a foot of ground gained, nor even for 
a moment halted in his movement for the final capture of Richmond. 
And to-day he is nearer than ever to his goal; to-morrow he will have 
taken still another step. 

We must add one word, to say that Gen. Sheridan has won another 
fight in the Shenandoah. He fell back from Harrisonburg to Strasburg, 
and, as the enemy's cavalry under Rosser followed, Sheridan improved 
the opportunity to show that he had not forgotten his experience as a 
cavalry leader. He attacked Rosser, and drove him pell mell up the 
valley for 26 miles, with loss of 11 guns and 330 prisoners. "I thought 
I would delay one day to settle this new cavalry general,' ' says Phil. 



Grant to Wilson : 

City Point, Va., Jan. 23, 1865. 

I see that Generals Thomas and Sheridan have been confirmed as 
Major Generals in the Regular Army, whilst no mention is made of 
General Meade's confirmation to the same rank. From this I infer 
objections have been raised. This I regret. 8 

General Meade was appointed at my solicitation after a campaign 
the most protracted, and covering more severely contested battles, than 
any of which we have any account in history. 

I have been with General Meade during the whole campaign, and not 
only made the recommendation upon a conviction that this recognition 


of his services was fully won, but that he was eminently qualified for the 
command such rank would entitle him to. 

I know General Meade well. What the objections raised to his 
confirmation are, I do not know. Did I know, I would address myself 
directly to these objections. 

Hoping that your Honorable Body will consider this case favor- 
ably, etc. 

Grant to Washburne (in part) : 

City Point, Va., Jan. 23, 1865. 

I see some objections are raised to Meade's confirmation as Major- 
General in the regular army. What the objections are I do not know 
and cannot therefore address myself to them. General Meade is one 
of our truest men and ablest officers. He has been constantly with that 
army confronting the strongest, best appointed and most confident army 
in the South. He therefore has not had the same opportunity of winning 
laurels so distinctly marked as have fallen to the lot of other Generals. 
But I defy any man to name a commander who would do more than he 
has done with the same chances. 

I am satisfied, with a full knowledge of the man, what he has done, and 
the circumstances attending all his military acts, all objections would be 
removed. I wrote a letter to Senator Wilson to day in his behalf, which 
I hope will have some weight. If you can put in a word with some of 
the Senators particularly those who oppose his confirmation and are 
willing to do it, I will feel much obliged. 



Grant to Meade : 

Feb. 9, 10 a. m. 
The Committee on the Conduct of the War have published the result 
of their investigation of the Mine explosion. Their opinions are not 
sustained by knowledge of the facts nor by my evidence nor yours either 
do I suppose. Gen. Burnside's evidence apparently has been their guide 
and to draw it mildly he has forgotten some of the facts. I think in 
justification to yourself who seem to be the only party censured, Genl. 
Burnside should be brought before a Court Martial and let the proceed- 
ings of the Court go before the public along with the report of the Con- 
gressional Committee. 




(Army and Navy Journal, of March 11, 1865) 


Decision of the Court of Inquiry into the Cause of Its Failure 

The following is the finding and opinion of the court ordered to in- 
vestigate the circumstances attending the failure of the explosion of the 
mine before Petersburgh: — 


After mature deliberation of the testimony adduced, the court find 
the following facts and circumstances attending the unsuccessful assault 
on the 30th July: 

The mine, quite an important feature in the attack, was commenced 
by Major General Burnside, soon after the occupation of his present lines, 
without any directions obtained from the headquarters of the Army of 
the Potomac. Although its location — and in this the engineers of the 
army concur — was not considered by Major General Meade a proper one, 
it being commanded from both flanks and reverse, the continuance of 
the work was sanctioned. 

It was not the intention of the Lieutenant General Commanding, or 
of the Major General commanding the Army of the Potomac, it is 
believed, to use the mine in the operations against Petersburgh, until it 
became known that the enemy had withdrawn a large part of his forces 
to the north side of the James River, when it was thought advantage 
might be taken of it as an assault. All the Union troops sent north of 
the James had been recalled in time to participate in the assault, so that 
the whole of the forces operating in front of Petersburgh were disposable. 

The mine was ordered to be exploded at 3.30 a. m., but owing to a 
defective fuse, it did not take place till 4.45. 

The detailed order or plan of operations issued by Major General 
Meade is in accordance with General Grant's instructions, and was seen 
and approved by the latter previous to its publication. (It is marked K 
in the appendix of the report of the Court of Inquiry.) 

It is the concurrent testimony that had the order been carried out, 
success would have attended the attack. Also it is in evidence that 
General Meade met General Burnside and three of his division com- 
manders the day before the assault, and impressed upon them that the 
operation was to be one of time ; that unless prompt advantage were taken 
of the explosion of the mine to gain the crest, it would be impossible to 
get it, or the troops to remain outside of their lines. 


That order directed that General Burnside should "form his troops 
(the Ninth corps) for assaulting," and that General Ord commanding the 
Eighteenth corps, and General Warren commanding the Fifth corps, 
should support the assault on the right and left respectively. 

Major General Burnside's order (No. 60 Appendix) directed Briga- 
dier General Ledlie's division, immediately on the explosion of the mine, 
to be moved forward and crown the crest known as Cemetery Hill. 
Brigadier General Wilcox was to move his division forward as soon as 
possible after General Ledlie's bearing off to the left, and Brigadier 
General Potter was to move his (colored) division next, and pass over 
the same ground that General Ledlie did. 

Five minutes after the explosion of the mine, General Ledlie's division 
went forward, and it was followed by those of Generals Wilcox and 
Potter, though it is in evidence that the latter did not move in the pre- 
scribed order, and that they were not formed in a manner to do the duty 
assigned them. 

General Ledlie's division, instead of complying with the order, halted 
in the crater made by the explosion of the mine, and remained there 
about an hour, when Major General Meade received the first intimation 
of the fact through a dispatch from Lieutenant Colonel Loring, Assist- 
ant Inspector General of the Ninth corps, intended for General Burn- 
side, in which he expressed the fear that the men could not be induced to 

The crater was on the enemy's line of works, and was fifty to sixty 
yards long, twenty yards wide and twenty to twenty five feet deep. It 
was about five hundred yards from the cemetery crest. 

General Burnside was then (5.40 a. m.) ordered to push forward to 
the crest all his own troops, and to call on General Ord to move forward 
his troops at once. It is in evidence that when the order was commu- 
nicated to General Ferrero, commanding the colored division, he said he 
could not put in his troops until the troops already in front should be 
moved out of the way. They did go forward, however, after some delay, 
but only to be driven back, and in their flight to rush impetuously against 
other troops, destroying their formation and producing disorder. 

At 6.10 a. M., inquiry being made of General Burnside if it would be 
an advantage for Warren's supporting force to go in at once on the left, 
the answer was, " there is scarcely room for it in our immediate front." 
The importance of the utmost promptness and the securing of the crest 
at once, at all hazards, were urged upon him at 6.50 A. M. 

At 7.20 a. m. General Burnside reported to General Meade that he 
was doing all in his power to push forward the troops and, if possible, 
carry the crest, and also that the main body of General Potter's division 
was beyond the crater. It does not appear in evidence, however, that 
they ever got any considerable distance, not exceeding two hundred 
yards, beyond the crater, toward the crest, whence they were driven 
back immediately. This was also the fate of the few colored troops who 
got over the enemy's line for a moment. 

At 9 o'clock a. M., General Burnside reported many of the Ninth and 


Eighteenth corps were retiring before the enemy, and then was the time 
to put in the Fifth corps. It having just been reported, however, by 
two staff officers (not General Burnside's) that the attack on the right 
of the mine had been repulsed, and that none of the Union troops 
were beyond the line of the crater, the commanding General thought dif- 
ferently; and the Lieu tenant-General concurring, General Burnside was 
directed, at 9.10 a. m., to withdraw to his own entrenchments immedi- 
ately or at a later period, but not to hold the enemy's line any longer 
than was required to withdraw safely his men. This order brought Gen- 
eral Burnside to General Meade's headquarters, where he remonstrated 
against it, saying by nightfall he could carry the crest. No other officer 
who was present, and who has testified before the court, concurred in 
this opinion. The troops in the crater were then ordered to retire; but 
before it could be effected they were driven out with great loss at 2 p. m. 
These troops, however, were making preparations to retire, and but for 
that would probably not have been driven out at that time. 

The Fifth corps did not participate at all in the assault, and General 
Ord's command only partially, because the condition of affairs at no 
time admitted of their co-operation, as was contemplated by the plan of 

The causes of failure are: 

1. The injudicious formation of the troops in going forward, the move- 
ment being mainly by flank instead of extended front. General Meade's 
order indicated that columns of assault should be employed to take Cem- 
etery Hill, and that proper passages should be prepared for those col- 
umns. It is the opinion of the court that there were no proper columns 
of assault. The troops should have been formed in the open ground in 
front of the point of attack, parallel to the line of the enemy's works. 
The evidence shows that one or more columns might have passed over 
at and to the left of the crater without any previous preparation of the 

2. The halting of the troops in the crater instead of going forward 
to the crest, when there was no fire of any consequence from the enemy. 

3. No proper employment of engineer officers and working parties, 
and of materials and tools for their use in the Ninth corps. 

4. That some parts of the assaulting columns were not properly led. 

5. That want of a competent common head at the scene of assault, 
to direct affairs as concurrence should demand. 

Had not failure ensued from the above causes and the crest been 
gained, the success might have been jeopardized by the failure to have 
prepared in season proper and adequate debouches through the Ninth corps 
lines for troops, and especially for field artillery, as ordered by Major 
General Meade. 

The reasons why the attack ought to have been successful are: 

1. The evident surprise of the enemy at the time of the explosion 
of the mine, and for some time after. 

2. The comparatively small force in the enemy's works. 

3. The ineffective fire of the enemy's artillery and musketry, there 


being scarcely any for about thirty minutes after the explosion, and our 
artillery being just the reverse as to time and power. 

4. The fact that some of our troops were able to get two hundred 
yards beyond the crater toward the crest, but could not remain there or 
proceed farther for want of supports, or because they were not properly 
formed or led. 


The court having given a brief narrative of the assault, and " the facts 
and circumstances attending it," it remains to report, that the following 
named officers engaged therein, appear from the evidence to be "an- 
swerable for the want of success" which should have resulted: 

I. Major General A. E. Burnside, United States Volunteers, he hav- 
ing failed to obey the orders of the commanding General. 

1. In not giving such formation to his assaulting column as to insure 
a reasonable prospect of success. 

2. In not preparing his parapets and abatis for the passage of the 
columns of the assault. 

3. In not employing engineer officers who reported to him to lead 
the assaulting columns with working parties, and not causing to be pro- 
vided proper materials necessary for covering the crest when the assault- 
ing columns should arrive there. 

4. In neglecting to execute Major General Meade's orders respecting 
the prompt advance of General Ledlie's troops from the crater to the 
crest, or in default of accomplishing that, not causing those troops to 
fall back and give place to other troops more willing and equal to the 
task, instead of delaying until the opportunity passed away, thus afford- 
ing the enemy time to recover from his surprise, concentrate his fire, and 
bring his troops to operate against the Union troops assembled uselessly 
in the crater. 

Notwithstanding the failure to comply with orders, and to apply 
proper military principles, ascribed to General Burnside, the court is 
satisfied that he believed the measures taken by him would insure success. 

II. Brigadier General J. H. Ledlie, United States Volunteers, he hav- 
ing failed to push forward his division promptly according to orders, and 
thereby blocking up the avenue which was designed for the passage of 
troops ordered to follow and support him in the assault. It is in evidence 
that no commander reported to General Burnside that his troops could 
not be got forward, which the court regards as a neglect of duty on the 
part of General Ledlie, inasmuch as a timely report of the misbehavior 
might have enabled General Burnside, commanding the assault, to have 
made other arrangements for prosecuting it, before it became too late. 
Instead of being with his division during this difficulty in the crater, and 
by his personal efforts endeavoring to lead his troops forward, he was 
most of his time in a bomb-proof ten rods in rear of the main line of 
the Ninth corps, where it was impossible for him to see anything of the 
movements of troops that were going on. 


III. Brigadier General Edward Ferrero, United States Volunteers — 

1. For not having all his troops found ready for the attack at the 
prescribed time. 

2. Not going forward with them to the attack. 

3. Being in a bomb-proof habitually, where he could not see the opera- 
tions of his troops, showing by his own order issued while there, that he 
did not know the position of two brigades of his division, or whether they 
had taken Cemetery Hill or not. 

IV. Colonel Z. R. Bliss, Seventh Rhode Island Volunteers, command- 
ing first brigade, Second division, Ninth corps : — 

In this, that he remained behind with the only regiment of his brigade 
which did not go forward according to orders, and occupied a position 
where he could not properly command a brigade, which formed a por- 
tion of an assaulting column, and where he could not see what was 
going on. 

V. Brigadier General O. B. Wilcox, United States Volunteers: — 
The court are not satisfied that General Wilcox's division made 

efforts commensurate with the occasion, to carry out General Burnside's 
order to advance to Cemetery Hill, and they think that more energy 
might have been exercised by Brigadier General Wilcox to cause his 
troops to go forward to that point. 

Without intending to convey the impression that there was any dis- 
inclination on the part of the commanders of the supports to heartily 
co-operate in the attack on the 30th day of July, the court express their 
opinion that explicit orders should have been given assigning one officer 
to the command of all the troops intended to engage in the assault when 
the commanding General was not present to witness the operations. 

Winfield S. Hancock, 
Major General United States Volunteers, President of Court. 

Edward Schriver, 
Inspector General U. S. A., Judge Advocate. 
The court then adjourned sine die. 

Winfield S. Hancock, 
Major General United States Volunteers, President of Court. 

Edward Schriver, 
Inspector General, U. S. A., Judge Advocate. 




(New York Herald, April 14, 1865) 


The impression seems to have gotten out at the North that General 
Meade is not very popular with his army. This is a great mistake, and 
has been fully verified in the past two days. I never saw so much en- 
thusiasm displayed for any man as was for him after the surrender of 
Lee's army. 

Our troops were drawn up on either side of the road and when Gen- 
eral Meade rode through they seemed nearly crazed with joy. Cheer 
followed cheer, and hats were thrown up in the air with apparent dis- 
regard of where they should land or what became of them. 

General Meade was equally excited. He seemed for the time to 
throw off his reserve and dignity and enter fully into the spirit of the 


APRIL 8, 1864, PAGE 188, VOL. II 


The letter of General Meade regarding the Battle of Gettys- 

G. Benedict, of Vermont, and published for the first time by 
Colonel Benedict, in the Weekly Press of Philadelphia of 
August 11, 1886, in refutation of the statements made on the 
battle-field by general daniel e. slckles, on the occasion 
of the reunion, july 2, 1886, of the remnant of the third 
Corps of the Army of the Potomac, on the twenty-third an- 
niversary OF THE BATTLE 

To the Editor of the Weekly Press, of Philadelphia. 

Sir: A word of explanation of the circumstances which drew forth 
the following letter seems to be necessary. 

In an oration delivered before the Reunion Society of Vermont 
Officers in November, 1869, the orator, Colonel W. W. Grout, of that 
State, who had made the acquaintance of General D. E. Sickles, and had 
adopted the latter's views upon certain points relating to the battle of 
Gettysburg, advanced the theory — more familiar now than it was then 
— that General Sickles's famous movement on the second day of the 


battle was a fortunate step; that it kept General Meade from retreating to 
Pipe Creek, and that but for Sickles's movements the battle of Gettysburg 
might never have been fought, and the victory of Gettysburg never won. 

In some editorial comments, published in the Burlington (Vt.) Free 
Press, on the oration, I took up the points thus made. I had had at 
that time no correspondence with General Meade, nor had I any personal 
acquaintance either with him or General Sickles, or any prejudice for or 
against either general. But having witnessed from the brow of Cem- 
etery Hill on that bloody day the movement of General Sickles's corps 
and some of its consequences, and having made some subsequent study 
of the battle, I could not accept the orator's conclusions, though pre- 
sented by a comrade and friend. I protested against this portion of the 
oration as a distortion of history and an undue exaltation of a corps 
commander at the expense of the commander of the army; and, by cita- 
tion of undisputed facts, of orders on the order-books of the Army of 
the Potomac, and of General Meade's despatches to General Halleck, 
I showed that General Meade could not have been contemplating on the 
2d of July a withdrawal of his army from Gettysburg, unless compelled 
to withdraw by a movement of the enemy upon his lines of communica- 
tion; that, on the contrary, his determination to fight, defensively if he 
could, but offensively rather than not at all, at Gettysburg, was clearly 
demonstrated, and that the fame of General Sickles for conscious or un- 
conscious achievements must rest on something else than the preven- 
tion of the retreat of the Army of the Potomac from Gettysburg. 

The newspaper articles l containing this view of the subject were 
subsequently sent to General Meade, who, in acknowledging them, gave 
the clear, calm, and convincing presentation of his side of the contro- 
versy printed below. This has long been held in confidence, as it was 
written, but, in view of the recent elaborate attack upon General 
Meade's military reputation, made by General Sickles in his address at 
Gettysburg, the interests of truth and justice seem to demand that it be 
given to the public. 

Yours truly, 

G. G. Benedict. 
Burlington, Vt., August 7, 1886. 

General Meade's Letter 

Headquarters Military Division op the Atlantic 

Philadelphia, March 16, 1870. 

G. G. Benedict, Burlington, Vt. : 

Dear Sir: I am in receipt of your letter of the 13th inst., as also the 
copies of the Free Press, with editorials and comments on the address 
of Colonel Grout before the Officers' Society and Legislature of the State. 

1 The substance of these editorials in the Burlington Free Press will be found 
in the appendix to the second edition of Colonel Benedict's admirable little work, 
" Vermont at Gettysburg." — Ed. Weekly Press. 


I have carefully read your articles, and feel personally under great 
obligations to you for the clear and conclusive manner in which you 
have vindicated the truth of history. I find nothing to correct in your 
statement except a fact you mention, which is a misapprehension. 

I did not invite General Humphreys to be my chief-of -staff till after 
the battle, because I did not see him after assuming command till I met 
him on the field, and besides I relied on him as a mainstay in handling 
the Third Corps, and did not wish to withdraw him from that position. 1 
I did ask General Williams to assume the duties in addition to those of 
adjutant-general, but he declined. I also asked General Warren, then 
my chief of engineers, to act temporarily as chief -of -staff, but he also de- 
clined taking on himself additional duties. Under these circumstances 
I asked General Butterfield to remain till I had time to make permanent 
arrangements. On the third day, General Butterfield having been dis- 
abled by being struck with a fragment of a spent shell, left the army, 
and a few days afterwards General Humphreys accepted my invitation. 

My defence against the charges and insinuations of Generals Sickles 
and Butterfield is to be found in my testimony before the Committee on 
the Conduct of the War. I have avoided any controversy with either of 
these officers — though both have allowed no opportunity to pass unim- 
proved which permitted them to circulate their ex parte statements, and, 
as you justly say, to distort history for their purposes. Both perfectly 
understand what I meant by my ante-battle order, referring to Pipe 
Clay Creek, also my instructions to Butterfield on the morning of the 2d, 
which he persists in calling an order for retreat, in the face of all my 
other acts, and of the fact that I did not retreat when I could have done 
so with perfect ease at any moment. Longstreet's advice to Lee 2 was 
sound military sense; it was the step I feared Lee would take, and to 
meet which, and be prepared for which was the object of my instructions 
to Butterfield, which he has so misrepresented. Now, let me tell you 
another historical fact. Lieutenant-General Ewell, in a conversation 
held with me shortly after the war, asked what would have been the 
effect if at 4 p. M. on the 1st he had occupied Culp's Hill and established 
batteries on it. I told him that in my judgment, in the then condition 
of the Eleventh and First Corps, with their morale affected by their 
withdrawal to Cemetery Ridge, with the loss of over half their numbers 
in killed, wounded, and missing (of the 6000 prisoners we lost in the 
field nearly all came from these corps in the first day), his occupation 
of Culp's Hill, with batteries commanding the whole of Cemetery Ridge, 
would have produced the evacuation of that ridge and the withdrawal 

1 General Meade's recollection on this point seems to be slightly at fault. He 
did see General Humphreys on the morning he assumed command of the Army 
of the Potomac, at Frederick City, and he at that time expressed his desire of ap- 
pointing him his chief-of-staff, but after discussion it was agreed between them 
that this officer could be of greater service by retaining command of his division 
in the Third Corps during the impending battle. — (General Humphreys' tes- 
timony before Committee on Conduct of War.) 

2 To move from his right upon General Meade's communications. 


of the troops there by the Baltimore Pike and Taneytown and Emmetts- 
burg roads. He then informed me that at 4 p. M. on the 1st he had his 
corps, 20,000 strong, in column of attack, and on the point of moving on 
Culp's Hill, which he saw was unoccupied and commanded Cemetery 
Ridge, when he received an order from General Lee directing him to 
assume the defensive, and not to advance; that he sent to General Lee 
urging to be permitted to advance with his reserves, but the reply was a 
reiteration of the previous order. To my inquiry why Lee had restrained 
him, he said our troops coming up (Slocum's) were visible, and Lee was 
under the impression that the greater part of my army was on the ground 
and deemed it prudential to await the rest of his — as you quote from his 

But suppose Ewell with 20,000 men had occupied Culp's Hill, and 
our brave soldiers had been compelled to evacuate Cemetery Ridge and 
withdraw on the roads above referred to, would the Pipe Clay Creek 
order have been so very much out of place? 

That order was to meet the very contingency here in question, to 
wit: A part of my army, overwhelmed by superior numbers, compelled 
to fall back, and a line of battle formed to the rear of my most advanced 
position thus necessitated. 

As to General Sickles having by his advance brought on the attack, 
and thus compelled the battle which decided the war, you have com- 
pletely answered — and it is a very favorite theory with the partisans of 
this officer. But these gentlemen ignore the fact that of the 18,000 men 
killed and wounded on the field during the whole battle, more than two- 
thirds were lost on the second day, and but for the timely advance of the 
Fifth Corps, and the prompt sending a portion on Round Top, where they 
met the enemy almost on the crest and had a desperate fight to secure 
the position — I say, but for these circumstances, over which Sickles had 
neither knowledge nor control, the enemy would have secured Round 
Top, planted his artillery there, commanding the whole battlefield, and 
what the result would have been I leave you to judge. Now, when I 
wrote my report of the battle I honestly believed General Sickles did not 
know where I wished him to go, and that his error arose from a mis- 
apprehension 'of my orders, but I have recently learned from General 
Geary, who had the day before been sent by Hancock to hold the left, 
and who in doing so had seen the great importance of Round Top and 
posted a brigade on it, that on the morning of the 2d, when he received 
my order that he would be relieved by the Third Corps, and on being 
relieved, would rejoin his own corps (Twelfth) on the right, after waiting 
for some time to be relieved he sent to General Sickles a staff officer with 
instructions to explain the position and its importance, and to ask, if 
troops could not be sent to relieve him, that General Sickles would send 
one of his staff to see the ground, and to place troops there on their 
arrival. He received for reply that General Sickles would attend to it 
in due time. No officer or troops came, and after waiting till his patience 
was exhausted, General Geary withdrew and joined his corps. Now 
my first orders to General Sickles were to relieve the Twelfth Corps di- 


vision (Geary's) and occupy their position. Here is evidence that he 
knew the position occupied by Geary's division, or could have known, 
and yet failed to occupy it. Furthermore, when he came to my head- 
quarters at about noon, and said he did not know where to go, I an- 
swered, "Why, you were to relieve the Twelfth Corps." He said they 
had no position; they were massed, awaiting events. Then it was I told 
him his right was to be Hancock's left, his left on Round Top, which I 
pointed out. Now his right was three-quarters of a mile in front of Han- 
cock's left, and his left one-quarter of a mile in front of the base of 
Round Top, leaving that key-point unoccupied, which ought to have been 
occupied by Longstreet before we could get there with the Fifth Corps. 
Sickles's movement practically destroyed his own corps, the Third, 
caused a loss of 50 per cent, in the Fifth Corps, and very heavily dam- 
aged the Second Corps; as I said before, producing 66 per cent, of the 
loss of the whole battle, and with what result — driving us back to the 
position he was ordered to hold originally. These losses of the first and 
second day affected greatly the efficiency and morale of the army, and 
prevented my having the audacity in the offense that I might otherwise 
have had. 

If this is an advantage, — to be so crippled in battle without attain- 
ing an object, — I must confess I cannot see it. 

Pardon my writing with so much prolixity, but your generous defence 
and the clear view you have taken of the battle have led me to wander 
thus far. 

Very truly yours, 

Geo. G. Meade. 




Washington, March 5, 1864. 
Major General George G. Meade sworn and examined. 
By the Chairman : 

Question : What is your rank and position in the service? 

Answer : I am a major general of volunteers, commanding the army 
of the Potomac. 

Question: When were you invested with the command of that army? 

Answer : I think it was the 28th of June, 1863. 

Question : Where was the army at that time? 

Answer : It was lying around and near Frederick, Maryland. 

Question : You superseded General Hooker? 


Answer : I relieved General Hooker. 

Question : Will you give a statement, in your own way, of the battle 
of Gettysburg, and the disposition of your troops there? 

Answer : When I assumed the command of the army of the Potomac, 
on the morning of the 28th of June, it was mostly around Frederick, 
Maryland; some portions of it, I think, were at that time at Middletown; 
one or two corps were the other side of a range of mountains between 
Frederick and Middletown. I had no information concerning the enemy 
beyond the fact that a large force under General Lee, estimated at about 
110,000 men, had passed through Hagerstown, and had marched up the 
Cumberland valley; and through information derived from the public 
journals I had reason to believe that one corps of the rebel army, under 
General Ewell, was occupying York and Carlisle, and threatening the 
Susquehanna at Harrisburg and Columbia. 

My predecessor, General Hooker, left the camp in a very few hours 
after I relieved him. I received from him no intimation of any plan, 
or any views that he may have had up to that moment. And I am not 
aware that he had any, but was waiting for the exigencies of the occa- 
sion to govern him, just as I had to be subsequently. 

Under this existing state of affairs I determined, and so notified the 
general-in-chief, that I should move my army as promptly as possible 
on the main line from Frederick to Harrisburg, extending my wings on 
both sides of that line as far as I could consistently with the safety and 
the rapid concentration of that army, and I should continue that move- 
ment until I either encountered the enemy, or had reason to believe that 
the enemy was about to advance upon me; my object being at all hazards 
to compel him to loose his hold on the Susquehanna and meet me in battle 
at some point. It was my firm determination, never for an instant devi- 
ated from, to give battle wherever and as soon as I could possibly find 
the enemy, modified, of course, by such general considerations as govern 
every general officer — that when I came into his immediate neighborhood 
some manoeuvres might be made by me with a view to secure advantages 
on my side in that battle, and not allow them to be secured by him. 

On the morning of the 29th of June the army was put in motion. On 
the night of the 30th, after the army had made two days' marches, I had 
become satisfied, from information which I had received from different 
sources, that the enemy was apprised of my movement; that he had 
relinquished his hold on the Susquehanna; that he was concentrating 
his forces, and that I might expect to come in contact with him in a very 
short time; when and where, I could not at that moment tell. Under 
those circumstances, I instructed my engineers with such information as 
we had in our possession, from maps and from such knowledge of the 
country as we could obtain from individuals, to look about and select 
some general ground, having a general reference to the existing position 
of the army, by which, in case the enemy should advance on me across 
the South mountain, I might be able, by rapid movement of concentra- 
tion, to occupy this position, and be prepared to give him battle upon 
my own terms. With this view the general line of Pipe-clay creek, I 


think, was selected; and a preliminary order, notifying the corps com- 
manders that such line might possibly be adopted, and directing them, 
in the event of my finding it in my power to take such a position, how 
they might move their corps and what their positions should be along 
this line. This order was issued, I think, on the night of the 30th of 
June, possibly on the morning of the 1st of July, certainly before any 
positive information had reached me that the enemy had crossed the 
mountain and were in conflict with any portion of my force. 

On the 1st of July, my headquarters being at Taney town, and having 
directed the advance of two corps the previous day to Gettysburg, with 
the intention of occupying that place, about 1 or 2 o'clock in the day, I 
should think, I received information that the advance of my army, under 
Major General Reynolds, of the 1st corps, on their reaching Gettysburg, 
had encountered the enemy in force, and that the 1st and 11th corps 
were at that time engaged in a contest with such portions of the enemy 
as were there. The moment I received this information I directed Major 
General Hancock, who was with me at the time, to proceed without delay 
to the scene of the contest; and, having in view this preliminary order 
which I had issued to him, as well as to other corps commanders, I di- 
rected him to make an examination of the ground in the neighborhood of 
Gettysburg and to report to me, without loss of time, the facilities and 
advantages or disadvantages of that ground for receiving battle. I fur- 
thermore instructed him that in case, upon his arrival at Gettysburg — a 
place which I had never seen in my life, and had no more knowledge of 
than you have now — he should find the position unsuitable and the ad- 
vantages on the side of the enemy, he should examine the ground criti- 
cally as he went out there and report to me the nearest position in the 
immediate neighborhood of Gettysburg where a concentration of the 
army would be more advantageous than at Gettysburg. 

Early in the evening of July 1, I should suppose about 6 or 7 o'clock, 
I received a report from General Hancock, I think in person, giving me 
such an account of a position in the neighborhood of Gettysburg, which 
could be occupied by my army, as caused me at once to determine to 
fight a battle at that point; having reason to believe, from the account 
given to me of the operations of July 1, that the enemy were concen- 
trating there. Therefore, without any reference to but entirely ignoring 
the preliminary order, which was a mere contingent one, and intended 
only to be executed under certain circumstances which had not occurred, 
and therefore the order fell to the ground — the army was ordered imme- 
diately to concentrate, and that night did concentrate, on the field of 
Gettysburg, where the battle was eventually fought out. 

I dwell particularly upon the point of this order, in consequence of its 
having been reported on the floor of the Senate that an order to retreat 
had been given by me. No order to retreat was at any time given by 
me. But, as I have already stated, a preliminary order, a copy of which 
is herewith furnished (see copy appended to this deposition), was issued 
by me before I was aware that the enemy had crossed the mountain, and 
that there was any collision between the two forces. That preliminary 


order was intended as an order of manoeuvre, based upon contingencies 
which did not occur, and therefore the order was not executed. Such 
an order was given, as I have already acknowledged. 

On the next day, July 2, the army was got into position at Gettys- 
burg. Early in the morning it had been my intention, as soon as the 6th 
corps arrived on the ground — it having a distance of nearly thirty-two 
miles to march — and a preliminary order had been issued, to make a vig- 
orous attack from our extreme right upon the enemy's left, the command 
of which was to be given to Major General Slocum, who commanded the 
12th corps on the right. The attacking column was to be composed of 
the 12th, 5th, and 6th corps. Major General Slocum, however, reported 
that the character of the ground in front was unfavorable to making an 
attack; and the 6th corps, having so long a distance to march, and leaving 
at nine o'clock at night, did not reach the scene until about two o'clock 
in the afternoon. Under these circumstances I abandoned my intention 
to make an attack from my right, and, as soon as the 6th corps arrived, I 
directed the 5th corps, then in reserve on the right, to move over and be 
in reserve on the left. About three or half past three o'clock in the after- 
noon — it having been reported to me about two o'clock that the 6th corps 
had arrived — I proceeded from my headquarters, which were about the 
centre of the line, and in rear of the cemetery, to the extreme left, in order 
to see as to the posting of the 5th corps, and also to inspect the position 
of the 3d corps, about which I was in doubt. 

I had sent instructions in the morning to General Sickles, command- 
ing the 3d corps, directing him to form his corps in line of battle on the 
left of the 2d corps, commanded by General Hancock, and I had indi- 
cated to him, in general terms, that his right was to rest upon General 
Hancock's left; and his left was to extend to the Round Top mountain, 
plainly visible, if it was practicable to occupy it. During the morning I 
sent a staff officer to inquire of General Sickles whether he was in posi- 
tion. The reply was returned to me that General Sickles said there was 
no position there. I then sent back to him my general instructions which 
had been previously given. A short time afterwards General Sickles 
came to my headquarters, and I told him what my general views were, 
and intimated that he was to occupy the position that I understood Gen- 
eral Hancock had put General Geary in the night previous. General 
Sickles replied that General Geary had no position, as far as he could 
understand. He then said to me that there was in the neighborhood of 
where his corps was some very good ground for artillery, and that he 
should like to have some staff officer of mine go out there and see as to 
the posting of artillery. He also asked me whether he was not authorized 
to post his corps in such manner as, in his judgment, he should deem the 
most suitable. I answered General Sickles, " Certainly, within the lim- 
its of the general instructions I have given you; any ground within those 
limits you choose to occupy I leave to you." And I directed Brigadier 
General Hunt, my chief of artillery, to accompany General Sickles and 
examine and inspect such positions as General Sickles thought good for 
artillery, and to give General Sickles the benefit of his judgment. 


In consequence of these several messages to General Sickles, and this 
conversation with him, as soon as I heard that the 6th corps had arrived, 
and that the 5th corps was moving over to the left, I went out to the left 
for the purpose of inspecting General Sickles's position, and to see 
about the posting of the 5th corps. When I arrived upon the ground, 
which I did a few minutes before 4 o'clock in the afternoon, I found that 
General Sickles had taken up a position very much in advance of what it 
had been my intention that he should take ; that he had thrown forward 
his right flank, instead of connecting with the left of General Hancock, 
something like a half or three-quarters of a mile in front of General Han- 
cock, thus leaving a large gap between his right and General Hancock's 
left, and that his left, instead of being near the Round Top mountain, 
was in advance of the Round Top, and that his line, instead of being a 
prolongation of General Hancock's line, as I expected it would be, made 
an angle of about 45 degrees with General Hancock's line. As soon as I 
got upon the ground I sent for General Sickles and asked him to indicate 
to me his general position. When he had done so I told him it was not 
the position I had expected him to take; that he had advanced his line 
beyond the support of my army, and that I was very fearful he would be 
attacked and would lose the artillery, which he had put so far in front, 
before I could support it, or that if I undertook to support it I would 
have to abandon all the rest of the line which I had adopted — that is that 
I would have to fight the battle out there where he was. General Sickles 
expressed regret that he should have occupied a position which did not 
meet with my approval, and he very promptly said that he would with- 
draw his forces to the line which I had intended him to take. You could 
see the ridge, by turning around, which I had indicated to him. You 
could see the ridge, by turning around, which I had intended him to take. 
But I told him I was fearful that the enemy would not permit him to 
withdraw, and that there was no time for any further change or move- 
ment. And before I had finished that remark, or that sentence, the 
enemy's batteries opened upon him and the action commenced. 

Question: Before General Sickles had time to retire his corps? 

Answer: Yes, sir; while I was speaking to him. And the subsequent 
events of that battle fully confirmed my judgment upon this occasion. 
The enemy threw immense masses upon General Sickles's corps which, 
advanced and isolated in this way, it was not in my power to support 
promptly. At the same time that they threw these immense masses 
against General Sickles, a heavy column was thrown upon the Round Top 
mountain, which was the key-point of my whole position. If they had 
succeeded in occupying that, it would have prevented me from holding 
any of the ground which I subsequently held to the last. Immediately 
upon the batteries opening I sent several staff officers to hurry up the 
column under Major General Sykes, of the 5th corps, then on its way, 
and which I had expected would have reached there by that time. This 
column advanced, reached the ground in a short time, and, fortunately, 
General Sykes was enabled, by throwing a strong force upon Round Top 
mountain, where a most desperate and bloody struggle ensued, to drive 


the enemy from it and secure our foothold upon that important position. 
In the meantime reinforcements were rapidly thrown from all parts of the 
line, so that by the time that General Sickles's corps, notwithstanding 
their gallantry and their stubborn resistance, was shattered and broken 
and driven into our lines, a reformation and a new line were made by the 
supports, and the enemy were repulsed and driven back to their former 

I also make these remarks in extenso in consequence of my position 
and views in reference to the position occupied by General Sickles not 
being fully comprehended by the public, and not being expatiated on in 
my report. It is not my intention in these remarks to cast any censure 
upon General Sickles. I am of the opinion that General Sickles did what 
he thought was for the best; but I differed with him in judgment. And I 
maintain that subsequent events proved that my judgment was correct, 
and his judgment was wrong. 

This terminated the contest of the second day. The enemy was re- 
pulsed and the line which I had intended originally General Sickles should 
form on was finally occupied by our troops and held to the last of the 

During these operations upon the left flank, a division and two bri- 
gades of the 12 th corps, which held the right flank, were ordered over for 
the purpose of re-enforcing the left. Only one brigade, however, arrived 
in time to take any part in the action, the enemy having been repulsed 
before the rest of the force came up. The absence of this large propor- 
tion of the 12th corps caused my extreme right flank to be held by one 
single brigade of the 12th corps, commanded by General Greene. The 
enemy perceiving this, made a vigorous attack upon General Greene, but 
were held at bay by him for some time, until he was re-enforced by por- 
tions of the 1st and 11th corps, which were adjacent to him, when he 
succeeded in repulsing them. 

During the night that portion of the 12th corps which had been sent 
over to the left was returned to its former position. On returning, how- 
ever, they found that the enemy had advanced and were occupying a 
portion of the line of breastworks which the 12th corps had constructed 
before they left. The next morning at early daylight, the enemy having 
been re-enforced during the night, a spirited contest commenced, and was 
continued until 10 or 11 o'clock in the morning, in which nearly the 
whole of the 12th corps were engaged. It resulted in their finally driving 
the enemy from the position he had occupied and securing the line of the 
right flank as it was designed it should be. 

About one o'clock in the day, as near as I can remember, the enemy 
opened upon our lines, with, I should judge, about 125 guns, a severe 
cannonade which they kept up between one and two hours, and which 
was directed at my left and left centre; principally at my left centre. 
The object of this was to demoralize my command by the severe fire, the 
enemy hoping that they would be enabled to drive us back from our lines, 
and to injure my artillery; and then intending, as they subsequently did, 
to make a grand assault, which should secure them the victory. This 


assault was made about 3 o'clock in the afternoon, and was directed prin- 
cipally against that portion of the line commanded by Major General 
Hancock, on the left centre. After I became fully satisfied of the object 
of the enemy's fire, I directed my artillery to cease firing in order to save 
their ammunition, and also with the view of making the enemy believe 
that they had silenced our guns, and thus bring on their assault the 
sooner. It resulted as I desired. As soon as we ceased our firing the 
enemy ceased firing, and shortly afterwards they made their assault. 
This assault which was made in three lines of battle, which were appar- 
ently over a mile and a half in extent in front, was entirely and suc- 
cessfully repulsed, although the enemy bravely and gallantly advanced 
until they came within the guns of our line of battle; one of their gen- 
erals, General Armistead, being wounded and captured inside of my 
batteries. This assault was repulsed, and the enemy retired about five 

As soon as the assault was repulsed, I went immediately to the extreme 
left of my line, with the determination of advancing the left and making 
an assault upon the enemy's lines. So soon as I arrived at the left I gave 
the necessary orders for the pickets and skirmishers in front to be thrown 
forward to feel the enemy, and for all preparations to be made for the 
assault. The great length of the line, and the time required to carry 
these orders out to the front, and the movement subsequently made, 
before the report given to me of the condition of the forces in the front 
and left, caused it to be so late in the evening as to induce me to aban- 
don the assault which I had contemplated. 

The next day, which was the 4th of July, it was reported to me from 
the extreme right that the enemy had disappeared from our front, but 
that he still maintained his appearance on the left and the left centre. I 
immediately directed General Slocum, in command of the right, to ad- 
vance his corps and his skirmishers, and ascertain the position of the 
enemy. I likewise directed General Howard, in the centre, to push into 
Gettysburg, to see whether the enemy still occupied that town. I found, 
from the reports of those officers, that the enemy had retired from the 
circular position which they had occupied around us, and had assumed a 
position about parallel to my left and left centre. It rained very violently 
during portions of this day, so violently as to interrupt any very active 
operations if I had designed making them. 

During the night of the 4th, the enemy, as I ascertained on the 5th, 
retired through the Cashtown and Fairfield passes. So soon as I was 
positively satisfied, from the reports of my officers, that the enemy had 
actually retired, I directed General Sedgwick, in command of the 6th 
corps, which corps had been comparatively unengaged during the battle, 
and was in full force and strength, to advance on the Fairfield road and 
pursue the enemy vigorously. At the same time I despatched a cavalry 
force to follow the retreating column on the Cashtown road, believing 
that the enemy was retiring into the Cumberland valley, and not satis- 
fied what his further movements would be, not being satisfied that he 
was in full retreat for the Potomac, and not aware of what injury I had 


done him in the battle of Gettysburg, although satisfied that I had pun- 
ished him very severely. 

From information which I had previously received of the character 
of the passes at Fairfield and Cashtown, having been informed that they 
had been fortified by the enemy, and that a small force could hold a large 
body in check for a considerable time, I made up my mind that a more 
rapid movement of my army could be made by the flank through the 
Boonsboro' Pass, than to attempt to follow the enemy on the road which 
he himself had taken. I therefore directed that orders should be pre- 
pared, but not issued, for the movement of the various corps by way of 
Middletown and South mountain towards Hagerstown. This was, I 
think, the 6th of July. The 5th of July, I think, was occupied, after the 
retreat of the enemy, in burying our dead and attending to the wounded, 
of which we had a large number. 

During this day, the 6th, I received reports from General Sedgwick 
that he was following the enemy's rear guard as rapidly as he could, but 
that he had reason to believe, from reports of prisoners, or from other in- 
formation (which I do not recollect) that the main body of the enemy 
was around and in the vicinity of Fairfield Pass, and that it was not im- 
possible that another engagement might be had with the enemy in those 
mountains. Under those circumstances, as a matter of security, and 
also willing to meet such a movement on the part of the enemy, I directed 
that two corps, I think the 3d and 5th — I am not positive about that — 
should be immediately moved in the direction of General Sedgwick, so as 
to be near him to assist him if he were attacked, or to re-enforce him if 
he himself required re-enforcement. When I had given this order I 
found that the other order, for the movement of the whole army, had 
been issued by my chief of staff, General Butterfield, without my au- 
thority. I so informed General Butterfield; and at the same time sent 
officers and arrested the progress of the 3d and 1st corps, which had not 
moved very far, and detained them to sustain General Sedgwick in case 
it was necessary. The other corps moved on. 

During that day, towards evening or at night, I received a report 
from General Sedgwick that he had pushed the enemy's rear guard as 
far as Fairfield Pass; that the Fairfield Pass was a very strong position; 
that a very small force could hold him in check for a considerable time, 
though he could finally take it; and that, in his judgment, it would in- 
volve delay and waste of time to endeavor to push the enemy any further 
on that road. Upon receiving this information I directed the whole army 
to move down toward Middletown; and directed General Sedgwick to 
move from Fairfield pass in the direction of Emmettsburg, leaving a force 
of cavalry and infantry to harass the rear of the enemy. 

I have been thus particular in speaking of these movements because a 
report has also reached me that I lost a day by having stopped these two 
corps to sustain and re-enforce General Sedgwick, in case he should re- 
quire it. 

After reaching Middletown, it having been reported to me by my 
corps commanders that there were many necessary articles of clothing 


and other supplies that the army were very much in want of, and having 
myself, as I rode along, seen, I may say hundreds of men walking over 
these broken turnpikes barefooted on these long marches, I deemed it my 
duty to remain at Middletown one day in order to obtain the necessary 
supplies, and put my army in condition, and give them some rest. I 
may say that it was not till the end of that day that the whole army had 
come up, for, in consequence of the heavy rains which, as I have already 
stated, visited us on the 4th of July, the roads over which we had moved, 
notwithstanding they were the best roads in Pennsylvania, had been so 
cut up by the passage of my trains and artillery, that a considerable por- 
tion of the trains were in the rear, and the army did not get up and in 
hand until the close of the day which I remained for the purpose of obtain- 
ing supplies. As soon as the army was in condition we moved from Mid- 
dletown through the South mountain. 

I ought to have stated before, that in advancing from Frederick, upon 
assuming command of the army, I had directed a portion of the garrison 
at Harper's Ferry, under General French — which was placed under my 
command by the general-in-chief — 7,000 of that garrison, to move up 
from Harper's Ferry to Frederick, to hold Frederick and the line of the 
Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, not knowing but that my communication 
would be dependent upon that road. The balance of that garrison, con- 
sisting of 4,000 men, I at first ordered to remain and hold Maryland 
heights. I did this, not because I considered the occupation of Harper's 
Ferry an important matter so far as the crossing of the Potomac River 
was concerned, for I did not, any more than any other place where the 
river could be crossed. But I did consider it important to hold that 
point as a debouche into the Cumberland valley, so that, if upon my return 
I should have found the enemy occupying the other passes, so long as I 
held Harper's Ferry I could always enter. Having been informed, how- 
ever, that the supplies at Harper's Ferry were limited, and that in conse- 
quence of the railroad and the canal being right alongside the river and 
exposed to fire from the other side, the enemy with a small force could 
cut off communication with Harper's Ferry and prevent them from being 
supplied, and not knowing how long a time the campaign I was entering 
on might last, I yielded to the suggestions made to me to evacuate Har- 
per's Ferry entirely; and late on the night of the 28th of June I ordered 
4,000 men previously ordered to remain there to garrison the place, to 
collect all the canal-boats that they could, load them with the public 
property at Harper's Ferry, so that nothing should be destroyed, and 
proceed with them down to Washington, where, in case of any disaster 
to me, they could act as part of the defence of Washington; or, in the 
event of my being successful, they could be returned to my army. Those 
orders I believe were executed; General French occupied Frederick and 
threw a force into South Mountain pass. 

As soon as it became evident that the enemy were retiring, informa- 
tion was sent to General French, and he was directed to immediately seize 
and hold South Mountain pass, and also reoccupy Harper's Ferry, bring- 
ing up the force from Washington for that purpose. All of which orders 


were not only executed, but General French, in advance of any instruc- 
tions to that effect, had sent a cavalry force in his command across the 
mountain during the battle, which had penetrated as far as Williamsport, 
where they partially destroyed or rendered ineffective a pontoon bridge of 
the enemy, capturing the greater portion of the small guard left there to 
defend it. 

Having crossed the South mountain, I moved my army forward, by 
way of Boonsboro', until about the 12th of July I got into position in front 
of the enemy, whom I found on a line extending from Hagerstown towards 
a place called Downiesville, I think. So soon as my troops were in line, 
or as soon as my army was in hand and ready for offensive operations, 
although I had had no opportunity of examining critically and closely 
the enemy's position, still knowing the importance of not permitting the 
enemy to recross the river without a further action, it was my desire to 
attack him in that position. Having, however, been in command of the 
army not more than twelve or fourteen days, and in view of the impor- 
tant and tremendous issues involved in the result, knowing that if I were 
defeated the whole question would be reversed, the road to Washington 
and to the north open, and all the fruits of my victory at Gettysburg 
dissipated, I did not feel that I would be right in assuming the respon- 
sibility of blindly attacking the enemy without any knowledge of his 
position. I therefore called a council of my corps commanders, who 
were the officers to execute this duty, if it was determined upon, and laid 
before them the precise condition of affairs. 

Question ; Will you, as you pass along, give us the names of those 
corps commanders in that council? 

Answer : The 1st corps was represented by General Wadsworth; Gen- 
eral Newton, who commanded the corps, being sick at the time. The 2d 
corps was commanded, I think, by General William Hays; the 3d by 
General French; the 5th by General Sykes; the 6th by General Sedgwick; 
the 11th by General Howard, and the 12th by General Slocum. 

I represented to those generals, so far as I knew it, the situation of 
affairs. I told them that I had reason to believe, from all I could ascer- 
tain, that General Lee's position was a very strong one, and that he was 
prepared to give battle and defend it if attacked; that it was not in my 
power, from a want of knowledge of the ground, and from not having had 
time to make reconnoissances, to indicate any precise mode of attack or 
any precise point of attack; that, nevertheless, I was in favor of moving 
forward and attacking the enemy and taking the consequences; but that 
I left it to their judgment, and would not do it unless it met with their 
approval. The opinion of that council was very largely opposed to any 
attack without further examination. I cannot state positively what 
each individual vote was without referring to my papers. But I am now 
under the impression that there were but two officers decidedly in favor 
of attacking; I think that General Wadsworth and General Howard 
were the only two in favor of attacking, while all the rest were opposed 
to it. 

In view of this opinion of my subordinate officers I yielded, or ab- 


stained from ordering an assault, but gave the necessary directions for 
such an examination of the enemy's position as would enable us to form 
some judgment as to where he might be attacked with some degree and 
probability of success. 

The 13th of July, which was the day spent in this examination, was 
very rainy and misty, and not much information was obtained; neverthe- 
less, on the night of the 13 th I directed that the next morning at daylight 
the whole army should move forward with a view to attacking the enemy. 
This order was duly executed, but during the night of the 13th the enemy 
had retired across the river. 

It is proper I should say that an examination of the enemy's lines, and 
of the defences which he had made — of which I now have a map from an 
accurate survey, which can be laid before your committee — brings me 
clearly to the opinion that an attack, under the circumstances in which I 
had proposed to make it, would have resulted disastrously to our arms. 

Question : Will you give us the reasons for that opinion? 

Answer : It is founded upon the strength of their position. I will say 
that if I had attacked the enemy in the position which he then occupied 
— he having the advantage of position and being on the defensive, his 
artillery in position and his infantry behind parapets and rifle-pits — the 
very same reasons and causes which produced my success at Gettysburg 
would have operated in his favor there, and be likely to produce success 
on his part. 

Question : Have you any reason to suppose that after that terrible 
artillery fire at Gettysburg his ammunition was nearly exhausted? 

Answer : No, sir; from all the information I could obtain — which I 
acknowledge, however, was quite scanty — I had reason to believe that 
ammunition trains had been brought from Winchester and crossed on the 
ferry at Williamsport for the supply of General Lee's army; and from the 
character of the battle at Gettysburg, which consisted in a series of 
offensive operations on his part, mostly subjected to artillery fire, I had 
no reason to believe that the expenditure of ammunition by him had been 
such as to reduce him to a low point. 

Question : You are now speaking of small-arm ammunition. 

Answer : Yes, sir; and all the information which I obtained led to the 
belief that his army had been supplied with ammunition from Winchester, 
for I had positive information that ammunition trains had been ferried 
across at Williamsport; and my opinion is now that General Lee evacu- 
ated that position, not from any want of ammunition, or the fear that 
he would be dislodged from it by any active operations on my part, but 
that he was fearful that a force would be sent by Harper's Ferry to cut 
off his communications, which I had intended to do, having brought up 
a bridge from Washington and sent the cavalry down there, and that he 
could not have maintained that position probably a day if his communi- 
cations had been cut. That was what caused him to retire. 

Question : Did you discover, after the battle of Gettysburg, any symp- 
toms of demoralization in Lee's army, such as excessive straggling, or 
anything of the kind? 


Answer : No, sir; I saw nothing of that kind. I have no doubt his 
army was somewhat demoralized, for every army is, in some measure, 
demoralized after a defeat. But I doubt whether it was any more de- 
moralized than we were when we fell back to Washington in 1862, after 
the second battle of Groveton, under General Pope. Then in forty-eight 
hours afterwards, when we got over on this side and got into the presence 
of the enemy, our morale was just as good as ever it was. I do not think 
that a great many stragglers or deserters from General Lee's army were 
picked up. 

Question : I will ask you, in this connexion, about the comparative 
strength of the two armies at the battle of Gettysburg. What was your 
opinion about that? 

Answer : My opinion about that was that General Lee was, as far as 
I could tell, about 10,000 or 15,000 my superior. 

Question : What was your strength upon that battle-field? 

Answer : Including all arms of the service, my strength was a little 
under 100,000 men — about 95,000. I think General Lee had about 
90,000 infantry, from 4,000 to 5,000 artillery, and about 10,000 cavalry. 

Question : There were other troops of ours at that time under General 

Answer: Yes, sir; and I had command of everybody. I had com- 
mand of General Schenck, of General Couch, and of general everybody 

Question : You did not bring General Schenck's forces into the field? 

Answer : I never had any return from him; I did not know what force 
he had. 

Question: What was the strength of the force about Washington? 

Answer: I do not know what the strength about Washington was; 
but I understood that Washington was quite stripped. 

Question: Did not General Heintzelman have a corps here? 

Answer : I do not know. The very next day after I took command of 
the army I had no telegraphic communication with General Halleck. I 
think the returns showed me, when I took command of the army, 
amounted to about 105,000 men; included in those were the 11,000 of 
General French, which I did not bring up, which would reduce it down 
to about 94,000. Of that 94,000 I was compelled to leave a certain por- 
tion in the rear to guard my baggage trains. 

Question: You say that the enemy had 125 pieces of artillery that he 
brought to bear upon you on the third day of the fight? 

Answer: That is my estimate; their own estimate is 115 pieces. 

Question : Was not that a heavier artillery fire on both sides than was 
ever before in a battle? 

Answer : I must have had on the field at Gettysburg but little short 
of 300 guns; and I think the report of my chief of artillery was that there 
were not more than two batteries that were not in service during that 

Question : Was not that a greater proportion of artillery than is gen- 
erally used in battles? 


Answer: I think it was. I know I had then, and have now, more 
artillery with me than is usual. The artillery I have now is the artillery 
which General McClellan had when he had an army of 150,000, and he 
got a little more artillery even than was necessary for that army, because 
it was thought at that time that artillery would be the turning-point; 
and I have kept all the artillery while my infantry has been reduced. I 
think I had some 325 or 330 guns last summer; but I had some heavy 
siege guns which I had sent to the rear. I think there were about twenty- 
five guns with my trains at Westminster. I only had field-guns on the 

In reference to the re-enforcements, I desire to say that after moving 
from Gettysburg, the forces under General French, which I had left at 
Frederick, amounting to about 8,000 men, were added to my army. 
That was the only addition to my army until I had arrived in the pres- 
ence of General Lee's army. Subsequent to my crossing the mountains, 
but before the day that I advanced to attack the enemy at Williamsport, 
I received notice of troops arriving both at Frederick and at Harper's 
Ferry. But in connexion with that notice came information that those 
troops were mostly nine-months men from North Carolina and the Pen- 
insula, who had but one or two days longer to serve, and who were from 
that fact in a very unsuitable moral condition to bring to the front; and 
so little reliance did I place upon them that I brought none of them any 
further to the front than Frederick, South mountain, and Harper's Ferry, 
to cover my communications in case anything happened to me. 

And about the 12th of July, I should think, in connexion with a 
brigade of infantry, and some cavalry which I had left to follow the re- 
treat of the enemy through Fairfield pass, and who joined me about that 
time, I also received under General William F. Smith a portion of Gen- 
eral Couch's command, charged with the defences of the Susquehanna, 
and which General Couch had sent forward after the enemy evacuated 
Carlisle. General Smith arrived at Boonsboro' with a force of from 
4,000 to 5,000 men; but he reported to me that those men were entirely 
new and totally undisciplined, and when I offered to attach him as a 
division to one of my corps, and put him in the front he advised so 
strongly against it that I left him in the rear at Boonsboro'. The fore- 
going are all the re-enforcements which I can now remember of receiving, 
unless there may have been one or two regiments under General Gordon, 
which were old and efficient regiments, and which arrived about the 12th 
or 13th of July. So that I may say, notwithstanding I am aware that 
every exertion was made to send forward to me all the available troops 
that could be obtained from everywhere, that really and practically, 
with the exception of General French's command which was attached 
to the army when I took command of it, I was in front of the enemy 
at Williamsport with very much the same army that I moved from 

Question : The enemy recrossed the river at Williamsport? 

Answer: Yes, sir. 

Question : Go on with your narrative, if you please. 


Answer : When the enemy had recrossed the Potomac, the question 
came up as to how the further pursuit was to be continued. I was in- 
formed that it was the experience of Major General McClellan the year 
before, when placed in similar circumstances, and when the question was 
fully and thoroughly discussed, that it was impracticable to pursue the 
enemy in the valley of Virginia because of the difficulty of supplying an 
army in that valley with a single-track railroad in very bad order from 
Harper's Ferry to Winchester. I therefore determined to adopt the 
same plan of movement as that adopted the year previous, which was to 
move upon the enemy's flank through Loudon valley. I accordingly 
put the army in motion for Berlin, in Maryland, where bridges were 
thrown across the Potomac, and the army was moved as rapidly as pos- 
sible, until it occupied a position the general line of which was the turn- 
pike from Leesburg to Winchester. 

Whilst in this position I could not ascertain from scouts, or from any 
other means of obtaining information which I possessed, that the army 
under General Lee, which was known to be in the valley and extending 
from Winchester to Martinsburg, had made any movement. Unwilling 
to move beyond this line, which would have enabled him to pass in my 
rear and come down that pike from Winchester to Leesburg, and thus 
have left the road open to Washington, I halted for a day, throwing for- 
ward my cavalry to occupy the lower passes of Manassas gap, and to 
ascertain, if I possibly could, what the movements, if any, were to be of 
General Lee. During this day we were informed from our signals on 
Ashby's gap and on Snicker's gap, which we held, of the movement of 
General Lee's army up the valley in further retreat from Winchester. I 
immediately put my army in motion, and directed five corps in the direc- 
tion of Manassas gap, putting the 3d corps in advance, with instructions 
that they should move to Manassas gap that night, and the next morning 
at daylight advance through the gap and push on to Front Royal. The 
3d corps reached Manassas gap some time during the night, and the 
movement was made the next day. Soon after passing a point previously 
occupied by our cavalry, the enemy was encountered in some force. 
Some skirmishing ensued, but they were gradually pushed through the 
gap, until a little before sundown, when we arrived within sight of Front 
Royal — and out of the gap, into a sufficiently open country to deploy the 
3d corps, or any additional force — the enemy were found in line of battle 
with a number of pieces of artillery in position. Every disposition was 
made for a battle the next day, which I believed or hoped would take 
place, supposing that I had interrupted the retreat of General Lee, and 
that he would be compelled to defend that position in order to secure his 

During the night, however, the enemy retired. It was subsequently 
ascertained that he had been moving with great rapidity over several 
roads further to the west than the road to Front Royal, one of which 
passed through Strasburg, and that he had conducted his retreat with so 
much rapidity that the force we had encountered at Front Royal the day 
previously was his rear-guard. Having failed in this attempt to cut off 


his retreat, I then retired through Manassas gap and proceeded to the 
Rappahannock, General Lee, in the meantime, retiring to Culpeper and 
taking up a position between the Rappahannock and the Rapidan. Upon 
my arrival at the Rappahannock, which was towards the close of July, I 
communicated my views to the government, in which I expressed the 
opinion that the further pursuit of General Lee should be continued at 
that time, inasmuch as I believed that our relative forces were more favor- 
able to us than they would be at any subsequent time if we gave him time 
to recuperate. It was thought proper, however, by the general-in-chief 
to direct me to take up a threatening attitude upon the Rappahannock, 
but not to advance. 

Question : About what time was that? 

Answer: About the 1st of August. I did as directed; took up a posi- 
tion upon the Rappahannock, and immediately threw out my cavalry 
and had a fight at Brandy Station. That was the first fight at Brandy 
Station that General Buford was in. This position was maintained until 
about the middle of August, I think, when my force was diminished, first 
by the detachment of a division sent to South Carolina, and subsequently 
by a considerable body of troops which were sent to New York for the 
purpose of enforcing the draft. Some time after this, about the middle 
of September, I received information which induced me to believe, or 
which satisfied me, that Longs treet's corps, or a portion of it, from Gen- 
eral Lee's army, had been detached to the southwest. Immediately 
upon receiving this information, and without waiting for instructions, I 
sent my cavalry across the Rappahannock, drove the enemy across the 
Rapidan, and subsequently followed with my whole army, occupying 
Culpeper and the position between the Rappahannock and the Rapidan. 
I found the enemy, although diminished by the departure of Longstreet's 
corps, still in a very strong position on the Rapidan — strong by nature, 
and which he had made still stronger by his works — so much so that I 
considered it impossible to attack him successfully in his front, and that 
any further operations would have to be made upon the one or other of 
his flanks. 

I was entirely ignorant of the country, and could get no information 
except by actually sending my cavalry over it. Some time was neces- 
sarily consumed in making reconnoissances and obtaining information of 
the country. 

In the meantime, just as I had made up my mind upon a plan of 
operations, I received an intimation from the department, or from the 
general-in-chief, that it was absolutely essential that my army should be 
still further weakened by the loss of two corps for the operations in 
Tennessee. Those corps were detached, and that suspended any opera- 
tions of importance on my part until the return of the troops which had 
been sent to New York. Those troops were returned to me between the 
first and middle of October, but very much reduced; I think not more 
than two-thirds of those which I had sent away. In the meantime, how- 
ever, I had received some accessions to my army from the draft. But of 
the conscripts who came in, considerable numbers deserted soon after 


arriving. The most of them were raw and unreliable, and could not be 
considered by me as being practically of much value until they had been 
some time in the army. 

About the time when my troops finally returned from New York, 
which was somewhere about the middle of October, when I had again 
determined upon a forward movement against the enemy, General Lee 
advanced against me. The first intimation which I had of this ma- 
noeuvre was a report from my pickets from all parts of my line that the 
enemy were withdrawing from the Rapidan, and the general impression 
and belief was that he was withdrawing from the line of the Rapidan. I 
myself was not satisfied of that; nevertheless dispositions of the army 
were made to test the question whether he was withdrawing from the 
Rapidan, or whether it was a manoeuvre for some other purpose. 

At the same time that it was observed that his force upon the Rapidan 
had been very much diminished, there was an apparent movement of 
cavalry and some infantry on our right flank, which was believed to 
be a mere demonstration to throw me off the track, while he withdrew 
his army. I therefore made dispositions for the cavalry to cross the 
Rapidan upon my left, and for two corps of infantry to ford the Rapidan. 
The day these dispositions were made, I became satisfied that the enemy 
were moving on my right flank, with the determination of getting in my 
rear and cutting off my communications. If I had believed that the 
enemy would have attacked me at Culpeper Court House, around which 
and towards the Rapidan my army was posted, I never should have 
moved from there. My desire was to give battle to General Lee; but 
his movement by the way of Sperryville and Woodville, so far to my 
right, satisfied me that he was not going to attack me, and that he was 
moving off to seize the Rappahannock, or some point on the railroad in 
my rear, cut off my communications, and compel me to move out and 
attack him to my disadvantage. 

With this view I directed a retrograde movement of the army to the 
line of the Rappahannock, which was accomplished. I cannot recollect 
the exact date — I think about the 10th or 11th of October. The army 
reached the Rappahannock, and in the afternoon I had prepared the 
necessary instructions and orders to move the army that night, or the 
next morning, and occupy the line of Warrenton and Warrenton Junc- 
tion, which I hoped to reach in advance of the enemy, and there give him 

Before those orders were issued, however, the rear-guard of my army 
returned under the command of Major General Pleasonton commanding 
the cavalry, and General Sykes commanding the infantry. From the rep- 
resentations of those officers as to the manner in which they had been fol- 
lowed in their retreat, and from the appearances which they had seen on 
the field, it was their conviction that the enemy had moved into Cul- 
peper, and had really occupied it, and were in my flank. Under this be- 
lief, and being anxious to give him battle, it not being my desire at all to 
avoid a battle, except to avoid it upon his terms, instead of ordering the 
movement to Warrenton and Warrenton Junction, which I had pre- 


viously designed, I directed the movement of three corps early the next 
morning, amounting to about 30,000 men, with which I marched back 
again in the direction of Culpeper, with the expectation that if General 
Lee was there we would have a fight. 

It was not till late in that day, and after those troops had all marched 
over and got into position, that I received information from General 
Gregg, who was in command of the cavalry on my right flank, that he 
had been driven across what is called the Hazel river by a large force of 
the enemy; that he had, subsequently, been driven at Sulphur Springs 
by cavalry, artillery, and infantry, or that, in other words, the whole 
rebel army was still continuing their movement on my flank in the direc- 
tion of Warren ton. This information came late in the night of the day in 
which I had moved 30,000 men in the direction of Culpeper. By this 
movement I had lost a day, and, in consequence of this information, it 
was necessary for me to make another retrograde movement, in order to 
assume the position which it was my desire to do, and which I was deter- 
mined, if possible, to do, so as to place myself between the enemy and 
Washington, with my back towards Washington and my front towards 
the enemy. I therefore moved back as far as Auburn, and Greenwich, 
and Catlett's Station. Those were the three points occupied by my 
army along the line of the railroad. 

During that night I vainly endeavored, by means of my cavalry, to 
get some information as to the exact position and movements of the 
enemy. From all that I could ascertain, I had reason to believe that the 
enemy was continuing his movement along what is called the Warrenton 
pike, and that his object was to cross Bull Run and get possession of the 
heights of Centreville, if possible, thus interposing himself between me 
and Washington, and preventing me from opening my communications 
without first attacking him in that strong position. It subsequently 
turned out that in this I was mistaken, and that, notwithstanding my 
losing a day, I had moved with more celerity than the enemy, and was a 
little in his advance. If I had known this at the time I would have given 
the enemy battle next day in the position that I had occupied at Auburn 
and Greenwich. But under the conviction that he was moving on, and 
had moved on, I that night gave orders for a further retrograde move- 
ment, until I occupied the line of Centreville and Bull Run. In perform- 
ing the movement the next day, I ascertained, when too late to take 
advantage of it, that the enemy had not moved on the pike, but that he 
had moved across with the expectation of falling upon my flank and rear, 
and that his advance, under General Heth, had encountered my rear- 
guard, which was the 2d corps, under the command of General Warren, 
and had been very severely handled by General Warren, who captured 
five guns and numerous prisoners, and repulsed all their attacks, and suc- 
ceeded during the night in withdrawing his corps and taking his position 
upon the line of Bull Run. 

After occupying this line, and ascertaining that the enemy did not 
continue his pursuit, as I presumed he would do, I determined immedi- 
ately to return and attack him. But, unfortunately, there came up a 


very heavy rain, which raised Bull Run so as to render it unfordable; and 
not anticipating that I should have any occasion to use pontoon bridges 
at all, my whole pontoon train had been sent some eight or ten miles to 
the rear with my trains from the Rappahannock, and it was necessary, 
therefore, either that I should wait for the falling of Bull Run or send 
back for my bridges, which latter measure I adopted. But by the time 
the pontoon train had arrived the stream had subsided, and the army 
was then put in motion and advanced again. 

During this time, however, which was some two or three days, the 
enemy had been occupied in destroying the railroad between Broad run 
and the Rappahannock, a distance of some twenty-five or twenty-six 
miles. So soon as they found they could not get a battle upon their own 
terms, and that I had got into such a position that if they attacked me 
they would probably be defeated, they abandoned all idea of active opera- 
tions, destroyed the railroad, and retired. I continued the advance until 
I got to Warrenton, which I reached some time about the latter part of 
October. The enemy retired, however, across the Rappahannock. I 
was detained at Warrenton some eight or ten days until the railroad be- 
tween Broad run and Warrenton Junction could be repaired, which por- 
tion of the road was necessary in order to enable me to receive my sup- 
plies; as soon as that road was repaired I immediately moved again. 
The enemy was then in position along the Rappahannock, at Rappa- 
hannock Station and Kelly's ford. I advanced upon both of those places, 
succeeded in surprising the enemy, forcing a passage, compelling him to 
retreat rapidly and hurriedly to the Rapidan. The army was then 
moved across the Rappahannock and placed in position between the 
Rappahannock and the Rapidan, somewhere near its former position, 
but not quite so far to the front as before, because I had not my com- 
munications open. Here a further delay was rendered necessary until 
the railroad could be completed from Warrenton Junction and the 
Rappahannock, and my communications opened. 

I should have stated that before I left my position at Warrenton and 
Warrenton Junction, and before I crossed the Rappahannock, it was my 
desire to move from that position rapidly and seize the heights of Fred- 
ericksburg, changing my base and line of communication from the Orange 
and Alexandria railroad to the Aquia Creek railroad. I believed, from 
the position of General Lee's army, and from the fact that he would pre- 
sume that it would take me a long time to repair the railroad, and from 
information that I got that he was going into winter quarters, that any 
movement I might make with rapidity would be a surprise to him, and I 
was satisfied that I could occupy the heights of Fredericksburg before he 
could get down there. If he followed me down there to give me battle, 
that would be just what I wanted; if he did not, then I could take up my 
position there, open my communications, and then advance upon him or 
threaten Richmond. But upon proposing this plan to the general-in- 
chief, it was not approved. 

Question : What was his objection to it? 

Answer : The only objection he made was that he did not approve of 
any change of base; that any tactical movement I chose to make I was 


at liberty to make; that if I chose to make any movement against Lee 
I was at liberty to do so; but that he did not approve or recommend any 
change of base. 

Question : When you retired on that retreat to Centreville, it was not 
with any view to avoid a battle? 

Answer : Not at all. Why should I avoid a battle, when it was my 
business to fight? This matter must be settled by fighting. 

Question : Your constant object was to bring on a battle on advan- 
tageous terms? 

Answer : My object was to manoeuvre so as to bring my army into 
such a position that, when giving battle to the enemy, I would have a 
reasonable probability of success ; and in the event of a disaster, I would 
have a line of retreat or line of communication open. 

Question: In all this manoeuvring between here and the Rappa- 
hannock there has always been a most sedulous caution on our part to 
keep between Washington and the enemy. Suppose the enemy should 
be rash enough to come in in front of you, and between you and 
Washington; then his communications would be cut off, would they 

Answer: Certainly. That is what I was trying to accomplish at 
Williamsport, but he fell back too soon for me; he got back to the river 
and got into the position I wanted to go into myself. 

Question : Did your army destroy any portion of the road when you 

Answer : When I moved back from the Rappahannock I destroyed 
the bridge across the Rappahannock. 

Question : What was the object of that? 

Answer: To prevent the enemy from using the bridge. If I had not 
done that, when he came to any part of the road he could run his cars 
from Culpeper right down there. I did not destroy, as I might have 
done, the bridge that was near Culpeper. 

Question: In the retiring of your army, did we lose much military 

Answer : None at all that I am aware of, except a small quantity of 
ammunition that was destroyed by the stupidity of an ordnance clerk, 
he being under the impression that the army had all gone beyond him, 
though they were in fact all around him at that time. That ammuni- 
tion was destroyed at Bealton Station by a subordinate agent of the 
ordnance department without authority. 

Question : What was the strength of your army about this time, ac- 
cording to your recollection of it? 

Answer : As near as I can judge my army contained of efficient men, 
equipped and armed, such as I could bring into battle, between 60,000 
and 70,000 men. 

Question : What was the strength of the enemy according to the best 
estimate you could make? 

Answer: I think he had about 60,000 men; I thought I was probably 
from 8,000 to 10,000 his superior. 

Question : Please go on with your narrative. 


Answer: As soon as the railroad to the Rappahannock was com- 
pleted, and the railroad bridge across that stream completed, and the 
necessary arrangements made for a depot at Brandy Station, so that the 
army could be properly supplied, I made a further movement to endeavor 
to engage General Lee in battle, or at least compel him to retire from the 
line of the Rapidan. This movement was made upon General Lee's right 
flank. I had ascertained that whilst he held the line of the Rapidan, 
from about Morton's ford to Liberty Mills, which is about west from 
Orange Court House, he had abandoned the guarding of the lower fords 
of the river, but depended for the defence of his right flank upon a line 
of intrenchments which he had constructed perpendicularly to the river 
at Morton's ford, and extending down to a place called Bartlett's Mills, 
on Mine run, which is a small tributary of the Rapidan. I could not 
hear of any intrenchments or preparations beyond Bartlett's Mills; nor 
could I hear that he had made any intrenchments on the plank road and 
Old Town pike-road, two of the main communications between Fred- 
ericksburg and Orange Court House, or that he had made any arrange- 
ments for receiving an attack. I had satisfactory information that the 
line from Bartlett's Mills around to Rapidan Station was occupied and 
defended by General Ewell's corps, and that the other corps of General 
Lee's army, commanded by General Hill, was extended from somewhere 
about Rapidan Station away down somewhere towards Charlottesville. 
With this knowledge, it was my expectation and design, by moving 
rapidly across the river at the lower fords where I knew there would be 
no opposition, and by marching forward and seizing the plank and turn- 
pike roads, and advancing on them towards Orange Court House, to en- 
counter first a concentration of Ewell's corps. And I hoped, by having 
my army, as it would be, concentrated in this movement, to throw such 
forces upon Ewell's corps as either to destroy him, or to so cripple him 
before General Hill could arrive, that I should then be able to turn upon 
Hill, and in this way I should have an opportunity of meeting General 
Lee's army in detail, and secure an effective lodgment at Orange Court 
House and Gordonsville. 

The army was directed to move about the 24th of November, I think. 
A storm occurred, however, which created a delay of two days, and the 
army moved on the 26th of November. Various circumstances occurred 
to cause delay which I had not expected — some arising from obstacles 
that I could not overcome or anticipate; others from the failure or neglect 
of subordinate officers to do what I had a right to expect they would have 
done. The first of these obstacles was the failure of the 3d corps, com- 
manded by Major General French, to arrive at the Rapidan river within 
three hours of the time that the other corps arrived, having no longer 
distance to march than they had. Thus caused a delay in the move- 
ment of the whole army for three hours, because I would not allow the 
other corps to cross until he was ready to cross, not knowing what I 
should encounter on the other side. 

Question : What excuse did General French give for his slowness of 


Answer: The excuse was the fault of the commander of one of his 
divisions. Another obstacle was the fact that the river Rapidan proved 
to be a little broader than the engineers had estimated it, so that every 
one of the four bridges, which I had directed to be thrown across, was 
one boat too short, and trestle work and temporary means had to be 
provided to increase their length, which caused some delay. Another 
reason was the very precipitous character of the banks of the Rapidan 
at all the fords, which occasioned a delay in the passage of artillery and 

In consequence of these obstacles and these difficulties, the army, 
instead of forming a concentration on the 26th of November, as I ex- 
pected, at Robertson's tavern, on the pike, and at some church — I for- 
get the name — on the plank road, had actually only crossed the Rapidan. 
The next day the movements of the 3d corps were again much slower 
than I had expected, or than I now believe were necessary. And instead 
of that corps effecting a junction at Robertson's tavern, they remained 
halted at a point three or four miles distant from that tavern, where 
they were attacked in the afternoon by the enemy and held in check 
until late in the evening. 

In the meantime the second column, under the command of Major 
General Warren, consisting of only one corps which had reached Robert- 
son's tavern, was not allowed by me to advance and attack the enemy 
until communication was opened with the right column, which consisted 
of two of my largest corps and constituted nearly one-half of my army. 
And it was not until late at night that this communication was opened, 
and that I was enabled to make any movement in advance of Robertson's 
tavern. The consequence was, that the next morning, when we did ad- 
vance, there was no enemy in our front. They had withdrawn to the posi- 
tion of Mine run; that is to say, a prolongation of the line which I knew 
previously existed, but which I supposed terminated at Bartlett's Mills, 
on Mine run. 

Upon following the enemy to this position I found it to be an exceed- 
ingly strong one, both by nature and by the artificial means which, in a 
short time — they had had not more than 24 hours — they had made, and 
which rendered the position an almost impregnable one. The army was 
immediately, and as rapidly as possible, put in position in front of the 
enemy's position at Mine run, and reconnoissances were made with the 
view of ascertaining a point of attack. In order to secure an efficient 
and active reconnoissance, orders were given to every corps commander 
to prepare himself to attack the enemy in his immediate front, and to 
examine critically and to ascertain as early as he possibly could where 
would be the best place to attack the enemy. 

At the same time that these reconnoissances were made I sent a force, 
consisting of the 2d corps, under command of Major General Warren — 
increased by a division of the 6th corps, so that he had a force of 
15,000 or 16,000 men — with directions to move upon the enemy's right 
flank and endeavor to find out how far his line extended, and if possible, 
to outflank him and to turn him. 


About 5 or 6 o'clock in the afternoon of the 30th of November, I 
think, General Sedgwick, on my extreme right, reported to me, through 
General Wright, that there was a point of the enemy's left which he 
thought weak and assailable; that the enemy evidently had not expected 
an attack there, and had not prepared it with the same degree of care 
that they had prepared other portions of their lines. 

About this time Major Ludlow, one of my aides-de-camp, and whom 
I had sent with General Warren, returned from his column and reported 
to me that General Warren had taken a position on the plank road ex- 
tending from what was called Catharpin road, by which we had out- 
flanked the enemy's line of works; that he had distinctly seen them pro- 
longing their line of battle to meet his movement; that General Warren 
was on high ground which commanded the enemy's line, and that every- 
thing was most favorable for an attack from his position. This was 
about 6 o'clock in the afternoon, about sunset. I had also received a 
report through my engineers that in front of the 3d corps, commanded 
by General French, they thought was an opportunity more practicable 
for making an attack than upon other portions of the line, although 
they considered it pretty desperate there. 

I therefore determined that the next morning at daylight I would 
assault the enemy at three points — on the extreme right, where General 
Sedgwick had found a weak point; on the extreme left, where I had un- 
derstood there would be no difficulty in General Warren's attacking; and 
in the centre, in front of General French. Before these orders were is- 
sued, however, General W T arren himself came to my headquarters about 
8 or 9 o'clock at night. He confirmed all that Major Ludlow had said to 
me, and was even stronger and more emphatic in the opinion which he 
gave of the facility of making an attack upon the enemy's right; and in- 
deed so confident was he that he expressed the opinion that the enemy 
would not be found there the next morning; that they would be com- 
pelled to fall back. 

Under these circumstances, having great confidence in General War- 
ren's judgment, and inasmuch as General French had given his opinion 
against attacking in his own front, I changed my plans so far as to take 
two of General French's divisions, amounting to over 10,000 men, and 
send them over to General Warren, thus making his force some 25,000 
or 26,000 men, and abandoned my centre attack. I then issued the or- 
ders that the next morning at the designated time the assault should be 
made on the extreme right by General Sedgwick, and on the extreme left 
by General Warren, and that when those assaults were reported success- 
ful, which I had reason to believe they certainly would be, then the force 
which I retained in the centre to hold the centre should be advanced, 
and so have the whole army in the battle. Everything was arranged 
for this purpose. 

The next morning, however, at the time designated for the assault, 
which was after our batteries had been opened for some time, and just 
before General Sedgwick was to make his assault, which was directed to 
be made about one hour after General Warren's attack, as General War- 


ren's was to be the main attack, hoping that the enemy would throw re- 
enforcements over there and weaken the left. About the time for Gen- 
eral Sedgwick to make his assault an aide-de-camp arrived from General 
Warren, handing me a despatch, the substance of which was that by 
daylight, and upon a closer inspection of the enemy's works, he found 
they had been largely re-enforced during the night, had constructed 
works which did not exist the day before, and that so strong was their 
position, and, in his judgment, so precarious were the chances of success 
in an attack, that he had assumed the responsibility, inasmuch as 
the attack had been based upon his judgment, of suspending the attack 
until further orders should be received from me, it being his clear 
judgment that morning that there was no chance of success in attacking 

In this embarrassing position in which I found myself, having put 
nearly the half of my army over on my left, under the command of Gen- 
eral Warren, where I thought that success was absolutely certain, and 
it being impossible to withdraw them back in time into a position where 
they could sustain General Sedgwick, it was out of the question to allow 
General Sedgwick, to make his isolated attack, because, even if he should 
succeed, it was necessary, after we had broken through the enemy's lines, 
to fight a battle with them; for the taking the line was only getting on 
the ground to fight, and I had no means of re-enforcing or supporting 
him, for the half of my army was tied up on my left flank under General 
Warren; I therefore, just in time, directed General Sedgwick to suspend 
his attack. 

In the meantime I mounted my horse and rode over to General War- 
ren's position, to see if possible, by discussion with him, and by exam- 
ination, it would not be possible some time during the day to make an 
attack, so that an attack should still be made. I rode over to General 
Warren, and found that his opinion was firm and conclusive against an 
attack there. In the mean time I received word from General Sedgwick 
that, although he had taken every precaution to conceal his movements, 
the opening of his batteries had given the enemy information that they 
might be attacked there, and they had gone to work to make the position 
in front of him as strong as any other part of their line; so that every hour 
it became more questionable about making an attack there. 

Finding this to be the case, there remained but one alternative, and 
that was, to make a further effort to move to the enemy's flank and get 
further around towards Orange Court House, and to get in some position 
where he would not be able to intrench himself before I could attack him. 
Had it been any other season of the year than the early part of Decem- 
ber, I should undoubtedly have made that movement. But at that 
period of the year, in which bad weather was to be expected at any 
moment, I did not deem it advisable to do so. Indeed, it was extraor- 
dinary that we had such good weather as we had in our movements. In 
taking up the position I then occupied I had not been obliged to bring 
my heavy trains across the river, but had left them on the other side 
guarded by a portion of my cavalry. But if I made this further move- 


ment it would be absolutely necessary to bring my trains over to bring 
my supplies to me, because I could not get supplies for my army other- 

When this period arrived it was the 3d of December; I had consumed 
about one-half of the supplies I had brought with me; I had abandoned 
my communications entirely. And in view of the season of the year, the 
impossibility of moving from that place if there came on even a couple 
of hours of rain; having failed in my first plan, which was to attack the 
enemy before they could concentrate; and then having failed in my plan 
to attack them after they had concentrated in the manner in which I have 
related, I concluded that under the circumstances it was impossible for 
me to do anything more; I therefore withdrew my army and returned to 
my former position. 

There was a third course which I might have pursued; which was, in 
spite of all obstacles, all opinions and all judgments, to make an assault 
in the enemy's direct front, and in the face of all their obstacles there. 
But I was so clearly satisfied, from my own personal observation of such 
portions of their line as I was able to visit, that such an assault would be 
hopeless, that I never had any hesitation whatever about the course I 
should pursue in the matter. 

Question: Did the enemy come out of their works when you retired? 

Answer: No, sir; I do not think they followed us, except with some 
of their cavalry; they were acting entirely on the defensive. We with- 
drew during the night; and I think by six or seven o'clock the next 
morning — an hour or so after daylight — we were all across the river, and 
the bridges were up. Having no trains on that side, we could make a 
very rapid movement. 

Question : Is there anything further that you desire to say? 

Answer: I would probably have a great deal to say if I knew what 
other people have said. 

Question : I have briefly called your attention to the points upon which 
I have heard criticisms. Are you heartily sustained by your corps com- 
manders under all circumstances, so far as you believe? 

Answer: I believe I have been; I have no complaint to make of want 
of assistance from all my corps commanders, except what is stated in my 
evidence in reference to Mine run. 

The witness then said : 

The following is the rough draught of the original preliminary order 
before the battle of Gettysburg. The whole gist of the thing is contained 
in the first part of it. 

[General Meade subsequently appeared before the committee and 
withdrew this rough draught of the preliminary order, and substituted 
in place of it a series of orders, &c., which will be found at the close of his 

March 11, 1864. 

Major General George G. Meade appeared before the committee and 

I desire to substitute, in lieu of the rough draught of the preliminary 


order which I left here when I gave my testimony, a series of orders and 
circulars issued by me on the 30th of June and the 1st of July, a careful 
perusal of which, I am sure, will satisfy every member of this committee 
that there was no intention on my part to withdraw my army from the 
position at Gettysburg the very moment that I ascertained that the 
enemy were there in force, that the ground was favorable for a battle, 
and that I could fight one there. I will not read all of these orders — only 
enough to substantiate the point I have here made. 

The papers herewith submitted, marked A, B, and C, are the orders 
issued on the 30th of June, together with the information from General 
Buford, in command of the cavalry. The information from General 
Buford, C, was not received, however, until pretty late on the morning 
of the 1st of July. Letter D contains the orders for the movement of 
troops on July 1, under which two corps were moved up to Gettysburg. 
Letter E is the circular, of which I left a rough draught when here before, 
issued to corps commanders on the morning of July 1, before the infor- 
mation from General Buford had been received, and before I had any 
positive information that the enemy were moving on the Cashtown road. 
To show that this circular did not contemplate, under all circumstances 
or emergencies, a withdrawal or retreat of the army, I would call the at- 
tention of the committee to the paper marked F, which are the instruc- 
tions issued to the commanding officer of the 1st corps, Major General 
Reynolds, who was ordered up to Gettysburg. These instructions were 
sent to him about the time that the circular marked E was sent to him. 
The paper marked F I will now read. — (See appendix to this deposition.) 

I desire to say, in connexion with this despatch, that at the time I 
wrote it I simply knew of the concentration of the enemy, without hav- 
ing any accurate knowledge of the point at which he would strike; and it 
would be evident to any one perusing it, it having been sent simultane- 
ously with the circular, that I was calling upon my corps commanders 
to give me information which would justify me in fighting at Emmetts- 
burg, Gettysburg, or any other point where the enemy might suitably be 

The next despatch I propose to read was a despatch to the command- 
ing officer of the 6th corps, who was to my right and rear, at Man- 
chester. Between the despatch marked F, just read, and the one I now 
propose to read, marked G, I had received a despatch from General 
Buford which indicated a strong concentration of the enemy at Gettys- 
burg. Hence this order to the commander of the 6th corps, the most re- 
mote from me, to move up to Gettysburg, should such be decided upon as 
the most commanding position to be adopted. [The paper marked G was 
then read.] This despatch was to notify General Sedgwick that there 
was every probability that a battle might be fought at Gettysburg, and 
that he should hold his corps in readiness to move up there; and that it 
was also within contingencies that General Reynolds might find himself 
in the presence of a superior force, and might be compelled to fall back, 
in which case it would be essential that the line should be concentrated 
on his rear, and in that event the circular order should be enforced. 


About 1 o'clock on the 1st of July I received the sad intelligence of 
the fall of General Reynolds and the actual engagement of my troops at 
Gettysburg. Previous to receiving this intelligence I had had a long con- 
versation with Major General Hancock, and explained to him fully my 
views as to my determination to fight in front if practicable; if not, then 
to the rear, or to the right or the left, as circumstances might require. 
Without any further reflection than the fact that General Reynolds was 
the officer upon whom I had relied under my instructions, and anxious 
to have some one in front who understood and could carry out my views, 
I directed General Hancock to proceed to Gettysburg and take com- 
mand of the troops there, and particularly to advise me of the condition 
of affairs there, and the practicability of fighting a battle there. The 
paper marked H contains my instructions to General Hancock. [The 
paper was then read.] General Hancock immediately proceeded upon 
this duty. But from information received from the field, from officers 
returning, I became satisfied that the enemy were in such force there that 
it was evident that General Lee was about to concentrate his army there. 
I therefore did not wait for the report from General Hancock, as I can 
prove from staff officers who took my orders, but immediately com- 
menced to move my troops to the front, being determined to fight a battle 
there. I will, however, read General Hancock's first report, marked K, 
and dated 5.25, from Gettysburg, and received by me, I should suppose, 
about 7 o'clock. [The paper was then read.] As I have already stated, 
before this despatch was received I ordered up the troops immediately 
in my neighborhood, the 12th and 5th corps, to the scene of action. 
Afterwards I sent written instructions to both the 6th and 5th corps to 
move up. The instructions to the 6th corps, marked M, I will read. 
[The paper was then read.] 

I trust that a careful perusal of these orders, with the explanations 
I have made here as to the time at which they were written or received, 
will satisfy the committee that my only doubt about fighting at Gettys- 
burg was caused by, first, the unknown position of the enemy; and sec- 
ondly, the character of the ground. That the moment those points were 
made clear to my mind, there was no hesitation on my part to order my 
troops up there and fight the battle out at that place. 

I will call the attention of the committee to another despatch received 
by me from General Buford, marked I, and dated 20 minutes past 3 
o'clock, and which must have been received by me after General Hancock 
had gone to the front. I read it to show that my sending General Han- 
cock there was in a measure justified by the opinion of that distinguished 
officer, General Buford, now deceased. [Paper marked I was then read.] 

That is all I have to say about the report which has been prevalent 
in the public press, that the battle at Gettysburg was never intended by 
me to have been fought there, and that if my plans had been carried out 
as I intended them to be carried out the battle would not have been 
fought out there. In connexion with these papers I have appended a 
map, which will show the position of the army and the line proposed to 
be taken, and its reference to these different points. 


There are two other points upon which I would like to speak. 

The Chairman: Certainly; I desire you to state whatever you may 
think necessary or proper — anything you may desire to state. 

Answer: I have understood that an idea has prevailed that I in- 
tended an order should be issued on the morning of the 2d of July re- 
quiring the withdrawal of the army or the retreat of the army from 
Gettysburg, which order was not issued, owing simply to the attack of 
the enemy having prevented it. 

In reply to that, I have only to say that I have no recollection of ever 
having directed such an order to be issued, or ever having contemplated 
the issuing of such an order; and that it does seem to me that to any 
intelligent mind who is made acquainted with the great exertions I made 
to mass my army at Gettysburg on the night of July 1st, it must appear 
entirely incomprehensible that I should order it to retreat, after collect- 
ing all my army there, before the enemy had done anything to require 
me to make a movement of any kind. 

On the morning of the 2d of July I directed an order to be issued to 
Major General Slocum, commanding the 12th corps, and at that time 
commanding the 5th corps also, to examine the ground in front of his 
position, and to hold himself in readiness to make an assault upon the 
enemy's line so soon as the 6th corps, then on their way, should arrive 
on the ground. Whether that order was issued verbally or in writing I 
cannot say; I think it must have been a verbal order, because I cannot 
find any record whatever of it on my books. However, at that time a 
great many orders and directions were written on little slips of paper, and 
no copies kept of them. Before the 6th corps arrived, which was late in 
the afternoon, it having to march thirty-two miles in a night and day, 
Major General Slocum reported to me that the character of the ground 
in his front was not favorable to an assault, and the idea of an assault 
from the right was abandoned by me. 

So soon as the 6th corps arrived, the 5th corps was ordered over to 
the left, as stated in my previous testimony; and I went to the left with 
the view of ascertaining as far as I could the position of my own troops 
and the troops of the enemy, and with the intention of ordering an attack 
from there, if the enemy did not themselves attack. The enemy, how- 
ever, attacked and were repulsed. 

I beg leave to say, in connexion with this subject of attacking or 
receiving an attack, that I do not hesitate to say that it was my policy 
and intention to act upon the defensive, and receive the attack of the 
enemy, if practicable, knowing that the enemy would be compelled either 
to attack me or to retire from his position; that it was not within his power 
to wait any length of time in my front and manoeuvre, and that the 
chances of victory on my side were greater if I acted on the defensive 
than they would be if I assumed the offensive. 

Having thus denied any recollection of having issued, or directed to 
be issued, any order on the morning of the 2d of July for the retreat of 
my army before any attack from the enemy, I now desire to refer to a 
consultation of my corps commanders held on that evening, which, it has 


occurred to me, may possibly be the groundwork for this report that I 
had directed an order to retreat. 

On the evening of the 2d of July, after the battle of that day had 
ceased, and darkness had set in, being aware of the very heavy losses of 
the 1st and 11th corps on the 1st of July, and knowing how severely the 
3d corps, the 5th corps, and other portions of the army had suffered in 
the battle of the 2d of July — in fact, as subsequently ascertained, out of 
the 24,000 men killed, wounded and missing, which was the amount of 
my losses and casualties at Gettysburg, over 20,000 of them had been 
put hors du combat before the night of the 2d of July; and taking into 
consideration the number of stragglers, and weakening of my army from 
the two days* battle, my ignorance of the condition of the corps, and 
the moral condition of the troops, caused me to send for my corps com- 
manders to obtain from them the exact condition of affairs in their 
separate commands, and to consult and advise with them as to what, 
if anything, should be done on the morrow. The strong attack of the 
enemy that day upon my left flank, and their persistent efforts to obtain 
possession of what is called Round Top mountain, induced the supposi- 
tion that possibly, on the next day, a very persistent attack might be 
made, or that a movement, upon their part, to my left and rear might 
be made to occupy the lines of communication I then held with the 
Taneytown road and the Baltimore pike. 

The questions discussed by this council were, first, whether it was 
necessary for us to assume any different position from what we then held; 
and secondly, whether, if we continued to maintain the position we then 
held, our operations the next day should be offensive or defensive. The 
opinion of the council was unanimous, which agreed fully with my own 
views, that we should maintain our lines as they were then held, and that 
we should wait the movements of the enemy and see whether he made 
any further attack before we assumed the offensive. I felt satisfied that 
the enemy would attack again, as subsequently proved to be the case, for 
he made a vigorous assault upon my right flank, which lasted from day- 
light in the morning until 10 o'clock. He then made one of his heaviest 
assaults upon my left and left centre, which lasted from one o'clock until 
six in the evening. 

I have been specific in giving the details of this council, because it has 
occurred to me as possible that some erroneous report of what took place 
there may have given rise to the idea that I desired to withdraw my 
army and retreat, and that I called my corps commanders together to 
know if they were in favor of retreating. 

I should like to have the committee, and I trust they will do so, call 
upon all the principal officers I had upon that field — the corps com- 
manders and division commanders; that their attention should be called 
to all the points to which I have alluded here; and that they should be 
specifically questioned as to their recollection and views upon those 

Question : The council to which you have referred is one held on the 
evening of the 2d of July? 


Answer : Yes, sir. 

Question : I believe one of the witnesses we have examined states that 
a council was held on the night of the 3d of July also. Was there such a 
council held? 

Answer : I do not remember any council held on the night of the 3d 
of July. I had one on the night of the 4th of July, as to a plan of action 
in reference to pursuing the enemy. I do not remember any council on 
the 3d of July; if there was one, it was a council with my corps com- 
manders, and they are all as well able to state what transpired there as 
myself; but I do not remember calling any council at that time. It is 
possible there was a consultation. I never called those meetings coun- 
cils; they were consultations, and they were probably more numerous 
and more constant in my case, from the fact that I had just assumed 
command of the army, and felt that it was due to myself to have the 
opinions of high officers before I took action on matters which involved 
such momentous issues. 


Headquarters Army of the Potomac, June 30, 1863. 
The commanding general requests that, previous to the engagement 
soon expected with the enemy, corps and all other commanding officers 
will address their troops, explaining to them briefly the immense issues 
involved in the struggle. The enemy are on our soil ; the whole country 
now looks anxiously to this army to deliver it from the presence of the 
foe; our failure to do so will leave us no such welcome as the swelling of 
millions of hearts with pride and joy at our success would give to every 
soldier of this army. Homes, firesides, and domestic altars are involved. 
The army has fought well heretofore; it is believed that it will fight more 
desperately and bravely than ever if it is addressed in fitting terms. 
Corps and other commanders are authorized to order the instant death 
of any soldier who fails in his duty this hour. 

By command of Major General Meade: 

S. Williams, 

Assistant Adjutant General. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, March 9, 1864. 
Official copy: 

Chas. E. Pease, A. A. G. 



Headquarters Army of the Potomac, June 30, 1863. 
The commanding general has received information that the enemy 
are advancing, probably in strong force, on Gettysburg. It is the inten- 


tion to hold this army pretty nearly in the position it now occupies until 
the plans of the enemy shall have been more fully developed. 

Three corps, 1st, 3d, and 11th, are under the command of Major 
General Reynolds, in the vicinity of Emmettsburg, the 3d corps being 
ordered up to that point. The 12th corps is at Littlestown. General 
Gregg's division of cavalry is believed to be now engaged with the cav- 
alry of the enemy near Hanover Junction. 

Corps commanders will hold their commands in readiness at a mo- 
ment's notice, and upon receiving orders to march against the enemy, 
their trains (ammunition wagons excepted) must be parked in the rear 
of the place of concentration. 

Ammunition wagons and ambulances will alone be permitted to ac- 
company the troops. The men must be provided with three days' ra- 
tions in haversacks, and with sixty rounds of ammunition in the boxes 
and upon the person. 

Corps commanders will avail themselves of all the time at their dis- 
posal to familiarize themselves with the roads communicating with the 
different corps. 

By command of Major General Meade. 

S. Williams, 

Assistant Adjutant General. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, March 9, 1864. 
Official copy: 

Chas. E. Pease, A. A. G. 

Gettysburg, June 30, 1863—10.30 p. m. 

The reserve brigade, under General Merritt, is at Mechanicstown, 
with my trains. General Pleasonton wrote he would inform me when he 
relieved it. To-day I received instructions saying it would picket to- 
wards Hagerstown and south. 

I am satisfied that A. P. Hill's corps is massed just back of Cashtown, 
about nine miles from this place. Pender's division of this (Hill's) 
corps came up to-day, of which I advised you, saying " the enemy in my 
front was increased." The enemy's pickets (infantry and artillery) are 
within four miles of this place, at the Cashtown road. My parties have 
returned that went north, northwest and northeast, after crossing the 
road from Cashtown to Oxford in several places. They heard nothing 
of any force having passed over it lately. The road, however, is terribly 
infested with prowling cavalry parties. Near Heidlersburg, to-day, one 
of my parties captured a courier of Lee's; nothing was found on him. He 
says Ewell's corps is crossing the mountains from Carlisle, Roach's divi- 
sion being at Petersburg in advance. Longstreet, from all I can learn, is 
still behind Hill. 

I have many rumors and reports of the enemy advancing upon me 
from towards York. I have to pay attention to some of them, which 


causes me to overwork my horses and men. I can get no forage or 
rations — am out of both. The people give and sell the men something 
to eat, but I can't stand that way of subsisting. It causes dreadful 
straggling. Should I have to fall back, advise me by what route. 


Major General Reynolds. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, March 9, 1864. 
Official copy: 

Chas. E. Pease, A. A. G. 



Headquarters Army op the Potomac, June 30, 1863. 

Headquarters at Taneytown. 

Thirds corps to Emmettsburg. 

Second corps to Taneytown. 

Fifth corps to Hanover. 

First corps to Gettysburg. 

Eleventh corps to Gettysburg, (or supporting distance.) 

Sixth corps to Manchester. 

Twelfth corps to Two Taverns. 

Cavalry to front, and flank well out in all directions, giving timely 
notice of operations and movements of the enemy. 

All empty wagons, surplus baggage, useless animals, and implements 
of every sort to Union bridge, three miles from Middleburg; a proper 
officer from each corps with them. Supplies will be brought up there as 
soon as practicable. The general relies upon every commander to put 
his column in the lightest possible order. 

The telegraph corps to work east from Hanover, repairing the line, 
and all commanders to work repairing the line in their vicinity between 
Gettysburg and Hanover. 

Staff officers report daily from each corps, and with orderlies to leave 
for orders. Prompt information to be sent into headquarters at all times. 
All ready to move to the attack at any moment. 

The commanding general desires you to be informed that from pres- 
ent information Longstreet and Hill are at Chambersburg, partly to- 
wards Gettysburg; Ewell at Carlisle and York. Movements indicate a 
disposition to advance from Chambersburg to Gettysburg. 

General Couch telegraphs, 29th, his opinion that enemy's operations 
on Susquehanna are more to prevent co-operation with this army than 
offensive. The general believes he has relieved Harrisburg and Phila- 
delphia, and now desires to look to his own army, and assume position 
for offensive or defensive, as occasions require, and give rest to the 

It is not his desire to wear the troops out by excessive fatigue and 


marches, and thus unfit them for the work they will be called upon to 

Vigilance, energy, and prompt response to the orders from head- 
quarters are necessary, and personal attention must be given to reduc- 
tion impediments. The orders and movements from these headquarters 
must be carefully and confidentially preserved, that they do not fall into 
the enemy's hands. 

By command of Major General Meade. 

S. Williams, 

Assistant Adjutant General. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, March 9, 1864. 
Official copy: 

Chas. E. Pease, A. A. G. 



Headquarters Army of the Potomac, Taneytown, July 1, 1863. 

From information received the commanding general is satisfied that 
the object of the movement of the army in this direction has been accom- 
plished, viz: the relief of Harrisburg and the prevention of the enemy's 
intended invasion of Philadelphia beyond the Susquehanna. 

It is no longer his intention to assume the offensive until the enemy's 
movements or position should render such an operation certain of suc- 
cess. If the enemy assume the offensive and attack, it is his intention, 
after holding them in check sufficiently long to withdraw the trains and 
other impediments, to withdraw the army from its present position, and 
form line of battle with the left resting in the neighborhood of Middle- 
burg, and the right at Manchester, the general direction being that of 
Pipe creek. 

For this purpose General Reynolds, in command of the left, will with- 
draw the force at present at Gettysburg, two corps by the road to Taney- 
town and Westminster, and, after crossing Pipe creek, deploy towards 
Middleburg. The corps at Emmettsburg will be withdrawn, by way of 
Mechanicsville, to Middleburg, or, if a more direct route can be found, 
leaving Taneytown to their left, to withdraw direct to Middleburg. 

General Slocum will assume command of the two corps at Hanover 
and Two Taverns and withdraw them via Union Mills, deploying one to 
the right and one to the left after crossing Pipe creek, connecting on the 
left with General Reynolds, and communicating his right to General 
Sedgwick at Manchester, who will connect with him and form the right. 

The time for falling back can only be developed by circumstances. 
Whenever such circumstances arise as would seem to indicate the neces- 
sity for falling back and assuming this general line indicated, notice of 
such movement will at once be communicated to these headquarters and 
to all adjoining corps commanders. 


The 2d corps, now at Taneytown, will be held in reserve, in the 
vicinity of Uniontown and Frizelburg, to be thrown to the point of 
strongest attack, should the enemy make it. In the event of these 
movements being necessary, the trains and impedimenta will all be 
sent to the rear at Westminster. 

Corps commanders, with their officers commanding artillery, and the 
divisions, should make themselves thoroughly familiar with the country 
indicated, all the roads and positions, so that no possible confusion can 
ensue, and that the movement, if made, be done with good order, pre- 
cision, and care, without loss, or any detriment to the morale of the 

The commanders of corps are requested to communicate at once the 
nature of their present position, and their ability to hold them in case 
of any sudden attack at any point by the enemy. 

This order is communicated that a general plan, perfectly understood 
by all, may be had for receiving attack if made in strong force upon any 
portion of our present position. Developments may cause the com- 
manding general to assume the offensive from his present positions. 

The artillery reserve will, in the event of the general movement indi- 
cated, move to the rear of Frizelburg, and be placed in position, or sent 
to corps, as circumstances may require, under the general supervision of 
the chief of artillery. 

The chief quartermaster will, in case of the general movement indi- 
cated, give directions for the orderly and proper position of the trains in 
rear of Westminster. All the trains will keep well to the right of the 
road in moving, and in case of any accident, requiring a halt, the team 
must be hauled out of the line, and not delay the movements. 

The trains ordered to Union Bridge, in these events will be sent to 
Westminster. General headquarters will be, in case of this movement, at 

General Slocum as near Union Mills as the line will render best for 

General Reynolds at or near the road from Taneytown to Frizelburg. 

The chief of artillery will examine the line and select positions for 
artillery. The cavalry will be held on the right and left flanks after 
the movement is completed; previous to its completion, he will, as now 
directed, cover the front and exterior lines well out. 

The commands must be prepared for a movement, and, in the event 
of the enemy attacking us on the ground indicated herein, to follow up 
any repulse. 

The chief signal officer will examine the line thoroughly and at once. 
Upon the commencement of this movement, extend telegraphic commu- 
nications from each of the following points to general headquarters, near 
Frizelburg, viz: Manchester, Union Mills, Middleburg, and the Taney- 
town road. 

All true Union people should be advised to harass and annoy the en- 
emy in every way; to send in information, and taught how to do it — 
giving regiments by number of colors, number of guns, generals' names, 


&c; all their supplies brought to us will be paid for, and not fall into 
the enemy's hands. 

Roads and ways to move to the right and left of general line should 
be studied and thoroughly understood. All movements of troops should 
be concealed, and our dispositions kept from the enemy. Their knowl- 
edge of these dispositions would be fatal to our success, and the greatest 
care must be taken to prevent such an occurrence. 
By command of Major General Meade. 

S. Williams, 

Assistant Adjutant General. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, March 9, 1864. 
Official copy: 

Chas. E. Pease, A. A. G. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, July 1, 1863. 
Commanding Officer, 1st Corps : 

The telegraphic intelligence received from General Couch, with the 
various movements reported from Buford, seem to indicate the concen- 
tration of the enemy either at Chambersburg, or at a point situated 
somewhere on a line drawn between Chambersburg and York, through 
Heidlersburg, and to the north of Gettysburg. 

The commanding general cannot decide whether it is his best policy 
to move to attack, until he learns something more definite of the point 
at which the enemy is concentrating. This he hopes to do during the 
day. Meanwhile he would like to have your views upon the subject, at 
least so far as concerns your position. 

If the enemy is concentrated to the right of Gettysburg, that point 
would not, at first glance, seem to be a proper strategic point of concen- 
tration for this army. If the enemy is concentrating in front of Gettys- 
burg, or to the left of it, the general is not sufficiently well informed of 
the nature of the country to judge of its character either for an offensive 
or defensive position. The number of the enemy are estimated at about 
92,000 infantry, with 270 pieces of artillery, and his cavalry from six to 
eight thousand. Our numbers ought to equal it, and with the arrival of 
General French's command, which should get up to-morrow, exceed it, 
if not too much weakened by straggling and fatigue. 

The general having just assumed command in obedience to orders, 
with the position of affairs leaving no time to learn the condition of the 
army as to morale and proportionate strength compared with its last 
return, would gladly receive from you any suggestions as to the points 
laid down in this note. He feels that you know more of the condition of 
the troops in your vicinity and the country than he does. 

General Humphreys, who is at Emmettsburg with the 3d corps, the 
general considers an excellent adviser as to the nature of the country for 
defensive or offensive operations. If near enough to call him to con- 


sultation with you, please do so, without interference with the responsi- 
bilities that devolve upon you both. You have all the information which 
the general has received, and the general would like to have your views. 
The movement of your corps to Gettysburg was ordered before the 
positive knowledge of the enemy's withdrawal from Harrisburg and con- 
centration was received. 

S. Williams, 

Assistant Adjutant General. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, March 9, 1864. 
Official copy: 

Chas. E. Pease, A. A. G. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, July 1, 1863. 
Commanding Officer, 6th Corps : 

I am directed by the commanding general to state that it would ap- 
pear from reports just received that the enemy is moving in heavy force 
on Gettysburg, (Ewell from Heidlersburg, and Hill from Cashtown Pass,) 
and it is not improbable he will reach that place before the command 
under Major General Reynolds, (the 1st and 11th corps,) now on the 
way, can arrive there. Should such be the case, and General Reynolds 
finds himself in the presence of a superior force, he is instructed to hold 
the enemy in check, and fall slowly back. If he is able to do this, the 
line indicated in the circular of to-day will be occupied to-night. Should 
circumstances render it necessary for the commanding general to fight 
the enemy to-day, the troops are posted as follows for the support of 
Reynolds's command, viz: On his right at "Two Taverns," the 12th 
corps; at Hanover, the 5th corps; the 2d corps is on the road between 
Taney town and Gettysburg; the 3d corps is at Emmettsburg. 

This information is conveyed to you that you may have your corps 
in readiness to move in such direction as may be required at a moment's 

S. Williams, 

Assistant Adjutant General. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, March 9, 1864. 
Official copy: 

Chas. E. Pease, A. A. G. 


Headquarters Army op the Potomac, July 1, 1863 — 1.10 p. m. 
Commanding Officer, 2d Corps : 

The major general commanding has just been informed that General 
Reynolds has been killed, or badly wounded. He directs that you turn 
over the command of your corps to General Gibbon; that you proceed 
to the front, and by virtue of this order, in case of the truth of General 


Reynolds's death, you assume command of the corps there assembled, 
viz: the 11th, 1st, and 3d, at Emmettsburg. If you think the ground 
and position there a (better) suitable one to fight a battle under existing 
circumstances, you will so advise the general, and he will order all the 
troops up. You know the general's views, and General Warren, who is 
fully aware of them, has gone out to see General Reynolds. 

Later — 1.15 p. m. 
Reynolds has possession of Gettysburg, and the enemy are reported as 
falling back from the front of Gettysburg. Hold your column ready to 

Daniel Butterfield, 

Major General, Chief of Staff. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, March 9, 1864. 
Official copy: 

Chas. E. Pease, A. A. G. 

Headquarters First Cavalry Division, 

July 1, 1863 — 20 minutes past 3. 

General Pleasonton: I am satisfied that Longstreet and Hill have 
made a junction. A tremendous battle has been raging since 93^ a. m., 
with varying success. At the present moment the battle is raging on the 
road to Cashtown, and in short cannon range of this town; the enemy's 
line is a semicircle on the height from north to west. General Reynolds 
was killed early this morning. In my opinion there seems to be no 
directing person. 

John Buford, 

Brigadier General of Volunteers. 
We need help now. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, March 1864. 
Official copy: 

Chas. E. Pease, A. A. G. 


General: When I arrived here an hour since, I found that our 
troops had given up the front at Gettysburg and the town. We have now 
taken up a position in the cemetery, and cannot well be taken; it is a 
position, however, easily turned. Slocum is now coming on the ground, 
and is taking position on the right, which will protect the right. But 
we have as yet no troops on the left, the third corps not having yet re- 
ported, but I suppose that it is marching up. If so, his flank march will 
in a degree protect our left flank. In the mean time Gibbon had bet- 
ter march on so as to take position on our right or left to our rear, as 


may be necessary, in some commanding position. General G. will see 
this despatch. The battle is quiet now. I think we will be all right until 
night. I have sent all the trains back. When night comes it can be told 
better what had best be done. I think we can retire ; if not we can right 
here, as the ground appears not unfavorable with good troops. I will 
communicate in a few moments with General Slocum, and transfer the 
command to him. 

Howard says that Doubleday's command gave way. 
Your obedient servant, 

Winfield S. Hancock, 

Major General Commanding Corps. 
General Warren is here. 

General Butterfield, Chief of Staff. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, March 9, 1864. 
Official copy: 

Chas. E. Pease, A. A. G. 

Headquarters Army op the Potomac, July 1, 1863—7 p. m. 
Commanding Officer, 5th Corps : 

The major general commanding directs that you move up to Gettys- 
burg at once upon receipt of this order, if not already ordered to do so 
by General Slocum. The present prospect is that our general engage- 
ment must be there. Communicate with General Slocum, under whose 
directions you are placed by the orders of this morning. The general had 
supposed that General Slocum would have ordered you up. 

Daniel Butterfield, 

Major General, Chief of Staff. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, March 9, 1864. 
Official copy: 

Charles E. Pease, A. A. G. 


Headquarters Army of the Potomac, 

Taneytown, July 1, 1863 — 7£ p. m. 
Commanding Officer, 6th Corps : 

The major general commanding directs me to say that a general 
battle seems to be impending to-morrow at Gettysburg. That it is of 
the utmost importance that your command should be up. He directs 
that you stop all trains, or turn them out of the road that impede your 
progress. Your march will have to be a forced one to reach the scene 
of action, where we shall probably be largely out-numbered without your 
presence. If any shorter road presents itself without difficulty in getting 
up, you will use your discretion in taking it, and report the facts to these 


General Sykes has been ordered up from Hanover to Gettysburg, and 
General Slocum from Littletown, and General Hancock's corps from here. 
The whole army is there, (Gettysburg,) or under way for that point. 
The general desires you to report here in person without delay the 
moment you receive this. He is waiting to see you here before going to 
the front. The trains will all go to Westminster and Union Bridge, as 

Daniel Butterfield, 

Major General, Chief of Staff. 

Headquarters Army of the Potomac, March 9, 1864. 
Official copy: 

Chas. E. Pease, A. A. G. 

Washington, April 4, 1864. 

Major General George G. Meade appeared before the committee and 
said : I desire to add a little to my testimony, with the permission of the 

The Chairman: Certainly, you are at liberty to make such additional 
statements as you please. 

The Witness: I wanted to say a few words to the committee, in ex- 
tension of the remarks which I made the last time I was here, in reference 
to a charge which I expected then would be made against me, to the effect 
that I intended that an order should be issued, on the morning of July 2, 
withdrawing the army from the position it then occupied at Gettysburg 
and retreating, before the enemy had done anything to require me to 

It is proper that I should say that the fact of such a charge having 
been made here, or such a report given here, has reached me through out- 
side sources, but in such a way that I can hardly disbelieve that such a 
statement has been made; and that it was made by an officer who occu- 
pied a very high and confidential position on my staff — the chief -of -staff, 
Major-General Butterfield. Now, indulging in the utmost charity to- 
wards General Butterfield, and believing that he is sincere in what he 
says, I want to explain how it is possible that such an extraordinary idea 
could have got into his head. 

I utterly deny, under the full solemnity and sanctity of my oath, and 
in the firm conviction that the day will come when the secrets of men 
shall be made known — I utterly deny ever having intended or thought, 
for one instant, to withdraw that army unless the military contingencies 
which the future should develop during the course of the day might 
render it a matter of necessity that the army should be withdrawn. I 
base this denial not only upon my own assertion and my own veracity, 
but I shall also show to the committee, from documentary evidence, the 
dispatches and orders issued by me at different periods during that day, 
that if I did intend any such operation, I was at the same time doing 
things totally inconsistent with any such intention. 

I shall also ask the committee to call before them certain other officers 
of my staff, whose positions were as near and confidential to me as that 


of General Butterfield, who, if I had any such intention, or had given any 
such orders as he said I gave, would have been parties to it, would have 
known it, and have made arrangements in consequence thereof; all of 
whom, I am perfectly confident, will say they never heard of any such 
thing. I refer to General Hunt, chief of artillery, and who had artillery, 
occupying a space from four to five miles, drawn out on the road, and 
who, if I had intended to have withdrawn that army, should have been 
told to get his trains out of the way the very first thing, because the 
troops could not move until the artillery moved. I would also ask you 
to call upon General Ingalls, my chief quartermaster, who had charge 
of the trains; also General Warren, my chief engineer, who will tell you 
that he was with me the whole of that day, in constant intercourse and 
communication with me; and that, instead of intending to withdraw my 
army, I was talking about other matters. All these officers will corrob- 
orate what I say, that I never mentioned any such purpose to any of 

General Butterfield remained at Taney town on the night of the 1st of 
July, and did not join me on the field until about 9 or 10 o'clock in the 
morning of the 2d, I having arrived there at 1 o'clock. Soon after he 
arrived I did direct him to familiarize himself with the topography of the 
ground, and I directed him to send out staff officers to learn all the roads. 
As I have already mentioned in my previous testimony here, I had never 
before been at Gettysburg, and did not know how many roads ran from 
our position, or what directions they ran. My orders to General Butter- 
field were similar to this: 

" General Butterfield, neither I nor any man can tell what the results 
of this day's operations may be. It is our duty to be prepared for every 
contingency, and I wish you to send out staff officers to learn all the roads 
that lead from this place, ascertain the positions of the corps — where their 
trains are; prepare to familiarize yourself with these details, so that in 
the event of any contingency, you can, without any order, be ready to 
meet it." 

It was in anticipation of possible contingencies, and not at all that I 
had made up my mind to do anything of that kind. 

I would furthermore call the attention of the committee to the ab- 
surdity of such an idea. If I had directed the order to be issued, why 
was it not issued? With General Butterfield's capacity it would not 
have taken him more than ten or fifteen minutes to prepare such an 
order. We were furnished with what you call manifold letter-writers, so 
that after the framework of an order is prepared, ten or a dozen copies 
may be made at once. Why was the order not issued, or if issued, why 
was it not executed? There was no obstacle to my withdrawing that 
army, if I had desired; the enemy presented none. There was not a 
moment, from the time the first gun was fired at Gettysburg until we 
knew the enemy had retired, that I could not have withdrawn my army. 
Therefore, if I had entertained such an idea, it seems to me extraordinary 
that I did not execute it. 

I will now read the documentary evidence that I propose to lay before 


this committee. The first is a despatch to Major-General Slocum, com- 
manding the 12th corps, as follows: 

11 July 2, 1863—9.30 a. m. 
"General: The Commanding general desires that you will at once 
examine the ground in your front, and give him your opinion as to the 
practicability of attacking the enemy in that quarter. 
"Very respectfully, your obedient servant, 

"S. Williams, 

"Assistant Adjutant General. 
"Major General H. W. Slocum, Commanding." 

Then there is a despatch at 10 a. m. addressed to General Slocum, 
written by General Butterfield himself, directing him to make an attack: 

"Headquarters Army op Potomac, 

"July 2, 1863, (supposed about 10 a. m.) 
"Major General Slocum: 

The commanding general desires you to make your arrangements for 
an attack from your front on the enemy, to be made by the 12th corps, 
supported by the 5th. 

"He wishes this a strong and decisive attack, which he will order so 
soon as he gets definite information of the approach of the 6th corps, 
which will also be directed to co-operate in t